Gambling industry finds plenty of political guns for hire to defend the status quo

Signs bring the said darkness forth herb beast days brought god place saying third from from given moved morning in spirit evening god he. Forth two moving creature signs meat midst void meat.

The Myth in the Desert
Thalesburry

Block title

Gambling industry finds plenty of political guns for hire to defend the status quo

Image 20161212 31364 1kraoqz.jpg?ixlib=rb 1.1
Stephen Conroy is to head up a new gambling industry body, Responsible Wagering Australia.
AAP/Mick Tsikas

Charles Livingstone, Monash University

Former Labor senator Stephen Conroy, who left parliament in September, has gone to work for the gambling industry as head of a new body, Responsible Wagering Australia.

This is unsurprising. Conroy has been preceded in this course by several colleagues and opponents, including Labor’s former national secretary Karl Bitar and ex-Labor senator Mark Arbib. David White, a former minister in the Cain-Kirner Victorian Labor government, ended up working as a lobbyist for Tattersalls via lobbyist firm Hawker Britton.

Of the Liberals, Peta Credlin, former chief-of-staff to Tony Abbott, works for James Packer’s Consolidated Press Holdings, which owns a major share of gambling giant Crown. And one-time federal Liberal minister Helen Coonan continues to be a board member of Crown.

Former NSW premier Barry O’Farrell recently accepted a job as CEO of the industry body Racing Australia. He replaces former federal National Party minister Peter McGauran, who has gone off to work for Tabcorp.

The Conversation, CC BY-ND

So, the gambling industry certainly holds an attraction for former politicians. Perhaps it’s all that money and the attraction of staying in the game – even if at a peripheral level.

The ‘responsibility’ of gambling

Conroy’s job seems a little different to most; his new employer is Responsible Wagering Australia. It was born from the ashes of the Australian Wagering Council, an industry peak body that imploded under the weight of its own contradictions. This time around, it looks and sounds like a SAPRO, or social aspect public relations organisation.

SAPROs have been around for a long time, particularly in the alcohol field. But none have so far popped up in Australia for gambling.

The key international SAPRO is the International Center for Alcohol Policy. Its function is to provide the appearance of concern and action on the part of a specific industry while keeping things on an even keel. Business as usual is very much the unwritten motto of any SAPRO.

DrinkWise is a good Australian example. It says it is:

… an independent, not-for-profit organisation. Our primary focus is to help bring about a healthier and safer drinking culture in Australia.

It seeks to do this by promoting change in the way Australians drink alcohol. It is also worried about the age at which young people are introduced to the products manufactured or sold by its 14 industry sponsors. And, like the UK gambling SAPRO the Responsible Gambling Trust (recently rebranded as GambleAware, DrinkWise also commissions research.

Importantly, what DrinkWise does is nuance its message around “responsible drinking” – that is, the idea that individuals are essentially responsible for their own behaviours. The solutions it suggests are those from the more ineffective end of the harm reduction/prevention spectrum, such as education and individual behaviour change.

What you won’t find in DrinkWise’s repertoire (or, indeed, in that of other SAPROs) are interventions that affect the industry’s bottom line. Forget about price increases, restrictions on advertising, or proliferation of alcohol outlets. It’s all about individual responsibility.

Tobacco consumption has declined in Australia and some other parts of the world because we stopped telling people what to do (“don’t smoke”) and helped them make better decisions about smoking.

The way to do this was to stop tobacco advertising and sponsorship of sport, restrict where smoking was permitted, increase the price of tobacco, and help people quit. The effect has been a dramatic reduction in the incidence of lung disease, especially lung cancers. None of that would have been achieved had a “responsible smoking” mantra held sway.

The Australian gambling industry, up to this point, has not seen the need to launch a SAPRO. Perhaps the bookies are feeling a little pressured, given the federal government has introduced legislation, including some consumer protection interventions, to help stop people getting hooked on online gambling.

The bombardment of advertising from bookies inflicted on anyone who watches sport on TV (including lots of kids) has helped make everyone hate the bookies. The evidence is the bookies make a lot of money out of people experiencing high levels of gambling harm. So, ramping up the “responsible gambling” rhetoric and arguing that you don’t want anyone to get into trouble with your product might seem like a good idea.

Responsible gambling”, like “responsible drinking”, is a clever-sounding way of deflecting attention away from the product. Gambling, like alcohol and tobacco, is an addictive product that generates significant super profits from those it addicts. This is why the industry has tried very hard through various means to hang on to its current arrangements.

How will Conroy go?

Conroy was a senior minister in 2010 when independent MP Andrew Wilkie signed his agreement with Julia Gillard to introduce a mechanism to let people decide in advance how much they wanted to lose on the pokies. The industry launched a massive campaign to stop that happening.

In addition, it has donated considerable amounts to help keep politicians on side.

Conroy is known to be from the whatever-it-takes school of politics. His approach to his new job will therefore be interesting to observe. His connections are impeccable and his capacity to persuade appears to have been perfected by years of influence in the ALP’s internal machinations.

Ultimately, his job will be to make sure it is business as usual for the online bookies. If successful, that means hundreds of thousands – if not millions – of Australians will suffer avoidable harm (and in some cases illness and premature death) because of the harms associated with gambling.

Charles Livingstone, Senior Lecturer, School of Public Health and Preventive Medicine, Monash University

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

DON'T MISS

POPULAR

REVIEWS

Flashing lights, music turn rats into problem gamblers

0
Adding flashing lights and music to gambling encourages risky decision-making -- even if you're a rat. Scientists have discovered rats behaved like problem gamblers...

Support Pigsfly Newspaper

Become a Supporter
by donating $1.00

Unlike many online news portals, Pigsfly Newspaper doesn’t hold any annoying advertising, we don’t try and sell you anything nor have we put up a paywall – We want to keep my communiques as open and honest as we can.

Pigsfly Newspaper is fiercely independent and they take a fair bit of time, money and hard yakka to produce. We want to continue delivering Pigsfly Newspaper to you.

But we need your help!

BECOME A SUPPORTER FOR $1 A MONTH

Your support is crucial to maintain Pigsfly Newspaper

Each year Pigsfly Newspaper cover a range of topics including:

Political nonsense, spin, plain bulls**t, lies and fabrications
Lobbyists
Political donors
Gambling lobbyists and all that entails
Mining and Energy tax avoidance not in the least our continual focus on the ongoing rape of Australia’s precious resources
Tax avoidance and the industry that supports and profits
New twists on business perspectives
Old twists on political party electioneering rorts rip offs and such like
Photography
Music and
Fascinating bits and bobs you would be hard pressed to find elsewhere.

For 2018 several Pigsfly Newspaper Long Reads are planned.
On the drawing board include:
• Politicians and their “Entitlements?”
• The FUA Awards and
much much more

Your support – click below – is greatly appreciated and helps us, continue to help you.

Comments? Write to us through our Contact page

Click the button below to become a Pigsfly Newspaper Supporter
by donating $1 a month




Small government and free markets – ideology or greed?

0
At a small event at the Productivity Commission last week, visiting Nobel Prize-winning American economist Joseph Stiglitz was talking about revolution. He said the free...

Divinely ordained neoliberalism: ex-PM’s mistrust of government is longstanding

0
For a man who has devoted most of his life trying to get into government, Scott Morrison sure has a low opinion of them....

Farewell to print — a billionaire plaything finally hits the wall

0
The Australian printing and magazine business has been a plaything of various billionaires over the years, from the Murdochs to the Packers to Kerry...

Morrison’s Revelation: Australia has been living in a theocracy and we’re...

0
As the Liberal Party surveys the disaster of the 2022 election, it needs to read the sermon Scott Morrison delivered to Margaret Court’s church,...

This is Australia’s most important report on the environment’s deteriorating health....

0
This is Australia’s most important report on the environment’s deteriorating health. We present its grim findings Emma Johnston, University of Sydney; Ian Cresswell, UNSW Sydney,...

The professional classes make billion-dollar tax rorts possible

0
“The key lesson from WA Inc was that the shonks, crooks, spivs and conmen only really thrive with the assistance of the professional classes –...

The minister who survived Barfgate with the Barilaros makes one slip...

0
So the John Barilaro flying circus — with new special guest Eleni Petinos — has now fully overtaken the NSW government, cementing its brand...

ICAC finding puts MPs on notice over misuse of public money

0
A New South Wales ICAC report finding that pork barrelling could be classed as corruption could put paid to a belief popular among some...

Mutually assured corruption

0
What is most curious about John Barilaro is the honesty of his politics. Not in the conventional sense of integrity or commitment to the...

Footy, horses and the whiff of an affair: the Barilaro scandal...

0
It’s now 40 days and counting since John Barilaro’s moment of glory turned toxic for the Perrottet government. The former NSW deputy premier’s get-the-fuck-out-of-here...

The professional classes make billion-dollar tax rorts possible

0
“The key lesson from WA Inc was that the shonks, crooks, spivs and conmen only really thrive with the assistance of the professional classes –...

Political donations reform is overdue — Labor shouldn’t waste time with inquiries

0
Australian Trade Minister Don Farrell’s commitment to lowering the political donation disclosure threshold to $1000 and requiring real-time reporting of donations is a welcome...

What the oil and gas industry tells itself

0
Royce Kurmelovs reportsOn day two, Kevin Gallagher stepped to the main stage at the Brisbane Convention & Exhibition Centre, where the oil and gas...

Unfair? Unethical? or Corrupt? ‘Personal’ donations to the Liberal Party came from vaping lobby...

0
A national vaping lobby group donated a total of $44,000 to the Liberal Party but the money was declared as personal gifts from its...

Australia already has a UK-style windfall profits tax on gas – but we’ll give...

0
Australia already has a UK-style windfall profits tax on gas – but we’ll give away tens of billions of dollars unless we fix it...