Saturday, 17 September 2011

Is ClubsNSW worthy of anyone's trust?

ClubsNSW express a lot of opinions about the potential impacts of the proposed pokie reforms. Because of the cash generated by pokie gambling losses and the enormous tax breaks they get from State and Federal governments, they have a lot of money to spend to present their opinions. Can ClubsNSW management be trusted? If a recent release is truly their information then the answer is "no".

The Merriman-Webster dictionary defines "trust" as follows:
"assured reliance on the character, ability, strength or truth of someone or something"
If a recent media release about Norway's gambling harm prevention measures is truly from ClubsNSW, my view is that it demonstrates that the people managing ClubsNSW can not be trusted. This untrustworthiness affects not only reporters who write stories but, more importantly the members of registered clubs. Readers can make up their own minds.

While this media release can not be found on the ClubsNSW web site, it appears to be fully reproduced on the web site of the NSW Womens Bowling Association Inc. Click on the picture below to read what the purported release says:
The headline is entirely false and I detailed why in the last PokieAct blog. The privileged Pokie Club lobby's love of the word "mandatory" and the false impression it delivers is on display yet again. This misleading marketing ploy was discussed in this PokieAct blog.

The statements that concern me most are the first and second paragraphs. Here they are:
"The Federal Government’s support for mandatory pre-commitment on club and pub poker machines has been dealt a massive blow with revelations that the problem gambling rate could rise by as much as 60% if introduced in Australia.

A study of 3,000 people in Norway, which is the only country to have mandatory pre-commitment on all poker machines, found that the current rate of problem gambling has increased from 1.3% in 2007 to the current 2.1% following the introduction of mandatory pre-commitment 2 years ago."
A 60% increase in problem gambling!
Oh My God!

Apart from the fact that there is no mandatory pre-commitment in Norway, this argument, cited as fact is wrong.

Slots / Pokies were removed from Norway in 2007.

So, of course, problem gambling rates were lower.

They were removed. It's no wonder that problem gambling rates increased in later years. Pokies or slots were re-introduced in later years. And of course, the incidence of problem gambling rose.

Furthermore, anyone reading the actual Norsk Tipping report knows that the statistics were for all gambling, not just slots/pokies. Other forms of gambling are accessed though what Norsk Tipping now refers to as Interactive Video Terminals. This demonstrates that if slots/pokies are removed that problem gambling actually declines. It does not increase by 60% as a result of mandatory pre-commitment. ClubsNSW management wants you to believe problem gambling goes up. This is wrong.

It's not true. It is a misrepresentation. It is false. It is deliberately misleading. It is bull shit.

The Norwegian ban on machines was discussed in the 24 March 2011 PokieAct blog. Obviously, ClubsNSW management never read it or read it and are intentionally distorting the facts.

How can ClubsNSW management, in good conscience, mislead their members with such a distortion? How can ClubsNSW management ever expect to be trusted as a result?

They can't.

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Confusion at the Daily Telegraph

Today's Daily Telegraph published a story that was substantively inaccurate.  If the press considers it an obligation to report the facts, reporter Andrew Clennell has failed.  Here's Mr Clennell's opening sentence under the headline of "Julia Gillard is gambling on failed poker machine limiting system".
"The poker machine restrictions on which Julia Gillard is staking her prime ministership have failed in the only country in the world to have introduced a mandatory pre-commitment spending limit."
The subject country is Norway. Let me make this perfectly clear.

There is no mandatory pre-commitment in Norway.

The Norwegian system to gamble on Video Lottery Terminals requires every gambler to have a card. From 10 February, 2011 gamblers could voluntarily choose to set a limit. Apologies for being pedantic but the facts are important. The only pre-commitment was implemented in 2011 and it was voluntary, not mandatory. It is still voluntary. It has never been mandatory. Norway has never introduced mandatory pre-commitment.

The survey was conducted in 2010. Not 2011. There was no system of pre-commitment either voluntary or mandatory in place at the time the survey was conducted.

What was in place was a different solution. The government imposed a spending cap. Converting the Norwegian limits to Australian dollars it is about $A70 per day or about $A380 per month.

Here's a quote from the Norwegian authority as to the results of the research on their system.
"[They] concluded that there appears to be a general decline in the proportion of Norwegians with a gaming problem, and that those with a moderate form of compulsive gaming have either ceased to play or developed a rather greater problem with their gaming."

Click on the image below you can make up your own mind whether you agree that Mr Clennell has corrupted the facts. It's where the quote comes from.

No one is proposing anything like the Norwegian system of a government imposed spending limit for Australia. This is not a word game. The Norwegian system is something quite different from the modest consumer protection measures proposed for Australia. Mr Clennell and those who fed him that information are misleading the public.

Saturday, 3 September 2011

Why the Pokie Clubs Love Mandatory Pre-commitment

I am most of the way through reading the excellent novel Freedom by Johnathan Franzen. One of the characters, a failed activist, decides that population growth is the greatest threat to our planet. There is this wonderful passage that applies equally to the Pokie Club's media strategy about justifying and marketing their opposition to reform:
"It's all circling around the same problem of personal liberties.... People came to this country for either money or freedom. If you don't have money, you cling to your freedoms all the more angrily. Even if smoking kills you, even if you can't afford to feed your kids, even if your kids are being shot down by maniacs with assault rifles. You may be poor, but the one thing nobody can take away from you is the freedom to fuck up your life whatever way you want to. That's what Bill Clinton figured out- that we can't win elections by running against personal liberties."
That's why the Pokie Clubs love to say "mandatory". That's why the Liberals love to say "mandatory". The word reeks of taking away personal freedom. It's why the Pokie Clubs and the Liberals stand for "voluntary". Because they love freedom. And screw the consequences.

With the Pokie Club's campaign to have people shout at their local politicians in full swing, there is no mention about a core feature of the proposed pokie reforms i.e. gamblers will not be required to register, obtain a card, or set a limit on lower loss machines. In other words pokie gambling pre-commitment is NOT mandatory and not ALL machines will be required to have a mechanism whereby gamblers either have to or have the option of setting a maximum loss.

No one is proposing 'mandatory' pre-commitment.  There is no 'license to punt'. It is a misrepresentation. It is false. It is untrue. It is deliberately misleading. It is bull shit.

The parrot is dead. He has ceased to be. A stiff. Bereft of life. If the Pokie Clubs hadn't nailed mandatory pre-commitment to the perch, it would be pushing up daisies.

The proposal for lower loss machines will mean that about 80% of pokie gamblers won't need to change anything. Their freedom to gamble is preserved. Personal liberty remains intact.

But the notion of "all" and "mandatory" continues to be falsely published. Every time the media says "mandatory", the anger rises amongst the pokie club's rent a crowds.
Tony Eastley during 26 July AM where he said;
"TONY EASTLEY: The clubs industry is on the record: it doesn't like the Federal Government's proposal to require all poker machines to allow players to set a maximum loss for each gambling session."

In this context Timothy McDonald reported;
"TIMOTHY MCDONALD: At its heart, the debate is about how much it will cost to have machines that allow players to set a maximum loss at the beginning of each session.

Here's a link;
One needs only to look at the executive summary of the Select Committee to know that this is wrong. It might be barely acceptable if this were identified as being the advocacy of the pokie industry. Instead it is being reported as fact.

This misconception continues to be widely covered in the press. The Pokie Club's favourite word 



Check it out
Gold Coast News
"Staff and supporters of the Tweed's 30 registered clubs filled the South Tweed Sports Club yesterday, providing a show of force against the Federal Government's proposed mandatory pre-commitment scheme on pokies.

Central Western Daily
"The federal government’s proposed poker machine changes include introducing mandatory pre-commitment technology, where all poker machine players must commit to a spending limit before playing."

Herald Sun
"The federal government's plan would see pre-commitment required on machines that allow players to lose $1200 an hour."
While this statement is correct, this report omits any mention of pre-commitment not being required on low loss machines.

ABC online fails to report this key aspect online:
"More than 200 people turned up to the South Sydney Juniors Rugby League Club at Kingsford last night to protest against mandatory pre-set betting limits for pokies."

Daily Telegraph
FEDERAL Labor MP Peter Garrett last night delivered a fiery speech to a hostile crowd protesting against the Gillard government's proposed mandatory pre-commitment poker machine technology.

Narooma News
"Tasmanian Independent Andrew Wilkie wants Prime Minister Julia Gillard to address problem gambling through legislating for reforms such as mandatory pre-commitment in exchange for his support in a nearly hung parliament."

St George & Sutherland Shire leader
"The proposed reforms include requiring gamblers to nominate self-imposed limits on betting and the updating of club machines with systems which link machines to those in other clubs."

Southern Courier
"The 29 local clubs came together to speak out against the Federal Government’s proposed mandatory pre-commitment system for pokie machines."
Penrith City Star
Local clubs would be forced to spend more than $32 million to install the mandatory pre-commitment scheme being proposed by the Federal Government and Independent MP Andrew Wilkie.

Hawkesbury Gazette
ORDINARY punters and community members will finally have the chance to speak up about the Government’s proposed “licence to punt” policy at a forum to be held tonight

The Australian
The vexed issue of gambling reform being championed by Andrew Wilkie is coming to a head. Wilkie is demanding mandatory precommitment on all poker machines by 2014 and wants legislation passed by next May, with the bill on the table by the end of this year.

Herald Sun
"(Wilkie's) stance is that unless the Gillard Government introduces pre-commitment limits on every gaming machine, he will withdraw his support from the Government, which in turn will put it at risk

Making worse the poor reporting causing this confusion, I found a video on the website of The Australian. It has Mr Wilkie talking about "mandatory" pre-commitment. This segment became available on their web site on 29 July. However Mr Wilkie's quote is extracted from an interview conducted in December 2010; before the Select Committee's hearing commenced, before new evidence presented, let alone before the report issued.
It seems that what he said back in December 2010 is being presented as his current view.

So here's the truth. Here's a link to Mr Wilkie's Preface to the Joint Committee Report. Lower loss machines are referred to in the 5th paragraph.
"But many of Australia’s 600,000 regular poker machine players, and millions more genuinely occasional recreational players, would be just as happy to gamble on the sort of low intensity machines referred to by the Productivity Commission and available overseas. Such machines would not need to be part of the MPC regime as they are relatively safe due to a $1 maximum bet and other features limiting losses to an average of $120 an hour. Venues will need to have MPC high intensity machines or non-MPC low intensity machines, or a combination of both."

The detail is in Recommendation 36. Please read it.

There will no mandatory pre-commitment
on lower loss pokie machines.