Wednesday 1st of December 2021

1.2 billion for spinning lemons...

ww gambling


The supermarket giant Woolworths has been accused of deliberately concentrating its poker machines in low income areas to take advantage of some of the poorest people.
The first study of the locations of pubs and clubs owned by Woolworths shows 70 per cent of its clubs and hotels in NSW are located in low income areas with a concentration in four local government areas: Bankstown, Holroyd, Penrith and Fairfield.
The largest food retailer is also the country's largest operator of pokies, and it has been accused of earning hundreds of millions of dollars a year from marginalised users.
''The fact is they have a lot of machines in areas which by anyone's standards are disadvantaged,'' said the author of the report, Charles Livingstone, a gambling expert at Monash University.

''We are not talking about an accidental distribution. There seems to be careful planning … Woolworths is a massive Australian company which prides itself on being socially responsible and this doesn't sit well with that,'' he said.
Woolworths owns 6 per cent of the country's electronic gaming machines through the ALH Group of which it is the main shareholder. The 294 ALH venues contain 12,650 pokie machines bringing in an estimated $1.2 billion in net revenue each year.

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gambling on middle class australia...

A spokeswoman for Woolworths, Claire Kimball, rejected the suggestion the company deliberately placed venues in specific areas.
''ALH hotels cater to middle Australia, serving around 300,000 meals a week and providing affordable and friendly dining, social and entertainment venues in suburbs around Australia,'' Ms Kimball said.
''Most ALH hotels were established before poker machines were in pubs.'' Ms Kimball said the board had yet to finalise its position on the $1 bet limit proposal.
''We take our responsibilities very seriously but don't believe restrictions that would single out just one operator in isolation will be effective when there are many others pubs, clubs and casinos, as well as other forms of gambling,'' she said.

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Gambling on middle class Australia... Should I consider myself high class or lower class since I don't gamble?... Now what do I do with that extra two bux?...

open all hours...

A majority of Woolworths shareholders are expected to oppose a move to restrict the operation of poker machines by the supermarket giant.
More than 200 Woolworths shareholders, led by social activist group GetUp!, have been seeking to impose limits on the more than 200,000 gaming machines operated by the retailer through its hotel business.
Proxis lodged before an extraordinary general meeting in Adelaide on Thursday morning, indicated that more than 95 per cent of shareholders would vote against GetUp!'s resolution.
Just 2.5 per cent of votes were expected to be in favour.

The resolution seeks to impose one dollar betting limits and revenue limits of $120 an hour per machine.
It would also limit Woolworths to operating gaming machines for a maximum of 18 hours a day.
The Woolworths board had urged shareholders to vote against the resolution.

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spinning wheels .....

A Leagues Club in one of Sydney's problem gambling hot spots was allowed to add 102 new poker machines in return for a donation to the local community. But the donation has been channelled into a new grandstand for its own football ground.

Anti-gambling campaigners have blasted the pokies approvals system in NSW as ''a joke'' after Wentworthville Leagues Club was given clearance to spend $500,000 redeveloping its home ground, Ringrose Park.

In return, the club can increase its pokie offering by 102 machines to 539, adding an estimated $45 million to revenue over the next decade. The deal, presented as a donation to Holroyd City Council, which owns Ringrose Park, was approved by the Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority. The authority is tasked with preventing the proliferation of pokies in areas of low incomes and high gambling losses.

The ''local impact assessment'' process must ensure a venue makes a ''positive contribution'' towards the community'' before being granted approval to get new machines.

The Parramatta region, which includes Wentworthville, is seventh on the list of problem areas on the Australian east coast, with average losses of $5766 a year per person - or 18 per cent of median incomes, a report by UnitingCare states.

The anti-pokies campaigner, the Reverend Tim Costello, blasted the gaming authority as a ''protection racket for the pokies industry''.

''There is a cancer throughout the system and no one in the NSW government wants to do anything about it because, with $12 billion behind them, the clubs are a powerful political ally,'' he said.

''If you're going to distribute community benefit from public licences for pokies, you do it systematically, with real donations that actually provide real benefit. You don't let clubs decide where the money goes and how much they give.''

The deal emerged days after the industry won a two-year extension from the federal government to implement new limits on how much pokie players can bet. Under the reforms, pokies will have to offer punters the option to preset how much they are willing to lose.

The Monash University academic Charles Livingstone, who has studied the link between gaming machines and areas of socio-economic disadvantage, said the approvals system was ''utter nonsense''.

''The whole system in NSW is about as transparent as a block of concrete. The fact is that successive governments in NSW have refused to fund infrastructure and the clubs have offered to do a bit here and a bit there as long as it is on their terms.''

Dr Livingstone's most recent report estimated that just 1.3 per cent of pokies losses comes back to the community from clubs in NSW.

The authority approved 303 new machines this financial year according to its annual report - up from 248 in 2011. There is about 95,000 machines now in NSW.

The $500,000 donation by Wenty Leagues represents a third of the cost for the 300-seat grandstand and changing rooms at Ringrose, which is overseen by the Leagues club.

The 50-year-old wooden stand at the ground has been deemed unsafe and the deputy mayor, John Brodie, said the pokies deal was the only way to pay for a new one.

''It would be less than honest to suggest that it is not self-serving [for Wenty Leagues] in a sense but the fact is the council has no money to replace a grandstand that is dangerous. The only way we can get new facilities there is if the club puts in the money to build it,'' he said.

He insisted there was a wider community benefit as other groups use the ground, including a ladies vigoro tournament six years ago.

The club's chief executive, Dave Brace, said 43 junior teams associated with Wenty Leagues used the ground as well as the senior side, a feeder team for the Parramatta Eels. ''We went out to the community with the idea for a new grandstand and we didn't get any feedback that we were doing anything untoward,'' he said.

But one Holroyd councillor contacted by Fairfax Media, Greg Cummings, said he voted on the upgrade without any knowledge that it was tied to pokies.

''I can't recall any mention of poker machines. I just saw it as part of the club's offer to take down the unsafe wooden seating,'' he said.

A 33-page document produced by the council - Ringrose Park, Plan of Management, 2012 - makes no mention of any link to poker machines in the club's offer to redevelop.

Mr Brace said the 102 machines represented transfers from two clubs in Parramatta that had amalgamated with Wenty Leagues but since closed. He said there had in effect been a net loss of 21 machines in the community as a whole.

A spokeswoman for Holroyd City Council said: ''Ringrose Park is a community-owned facility and upgrades of this facility are therefore of benefit to the community.''

The mayor, Ross Grove, said: ''I make no apologies for supporting Wenty Leagues, that gambling is a legal activity and I support the notion of residents spending their money within the local community.

''Reconstruction of the Ringrose grandstand is long overdue and I'd like to congratulate the club on their initiative in this area and throughout the local community in the form of local jobs, sponsorships, and CDSE [community development support expenditure] grants.''

A spokesman for gaming authority said a number of other groups used Ringrose Park.

''The application by Wentworthville Leagues Club was to transfer 102 gaming machines from The Tingha Club [3.85 kilometres away] to Wentworthville Leagues Club following amalgamation of the two clubs and closure of The Tingha Club,'' the spokesman said.

''As part of its application to transfer the gaming machines, Wentworthville Leagues Club offered to contribute $500,000 to the construction of a covered stand at the local sporting ground Ringrose Park, which is owned by Holroyd City Council.''

The NSW Hospitality Minister, George Souris, declined to comment.

One-Armed Bandits

addiction reward cards...

Anti-poker machine campaigners have slammed supermarket giant Woolworths for introducing a frequent gambling rewards card for poker machines in its string of pokie pubs.

Woolworths' move is in direct response to government calls for harm minimisation measures to prevent problem gambling.

In December, the ALH Group, which is 96 per cent owned by Woolworths, will roll out the Monty's Reward card in Victoria and Queensland as its "voluntary pre-commitment" measure, after it was piloted in New South Wales.

Independent senator Nick Xenophon branded Woolworths' decision as cynical.

"What was meant to be a harm minimisation measure has been turned by Woolworths into a harm-exacerbation measure by using this card," he said.

"This isn't so much a loyalty card as an addiction card."

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See toon at top...

merry pokies...

Few people realise that Woolworths is Australia's largest operator of poker machines, which makes bringing public pressure hard. That's because Woolies craftily hides behind a family-friendly image. 

That's why we're hijacking their multi-million dollar Christmas campaign. 

Together, we can ensure that every time somebody sees one of the real Woolworths Christmas ads, they'll remember what Woolies is really doing for Australian families this holiday season. 

The Woolworths ads got more than one million views in less than 24 hours. And guess what? We have one million members, each with extensive networks – people who are likely also Woolworths shoppers. 

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spying on gamblers to maximise revenue...

Staff at poker machine venues owned by Woolworths spied on punters and offered extra free drinks to "high-value" customers in a bid to boost profits, contrary to the company's commitment to responsible gambling, a inquiry has found.

In February, anti-pokies campaigner and federal MP Andrew Wilkie aired allegations that staff at Australian Leisure and Hospitality Group (ALH), which is owned by the supermarket giant, were spying on customers in order to maximise revenue.

One whistleblower said staff were recording the "ins and outs" of people's lives, including what footy team they supported.

"We're actually writing it down so that we can get people to stay for as long as possible, to put as much money into the machines as possible," one said.

Woolworths said it would investigate the claims, and has now admitted that over a six-month period last year a "customer service program" was operating in some Queensland venues.

The scheme "gave rise to instances of ALH employees recording descriptive information about gaming customers in a manner that was below ALH's expectations and contrary to its policies," an ALH statement said.

There were also a small number of pubs in NSW and South Australia that were also involved.


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displacing the morality of owning gambling machines...

Woolworths is punting pubs and pokies out of its business, announcing plans to spin off its drinks and hotel interests next year.

Key points:
  • Woolworths is spinning off its $11b alcohol, gaming and hotel business
  • Woolworths is currently the third biggest gaming business in Australia, behind the Crown and Star
  • Gaming has always been contentious for Woolworths, but it says it is getting out of it to let various businesses reach their full potential


In a release to the ASX, the supermarket chain said it would package together its drinks, hospitality and gaming interests in the Endeavour Drinks and ALH Group businesses ahead of either a de-merger, or "other value accretive alternatives", such as a trade sale, in 2020.

Woolworths said the separation would deliver benefits from a simplified organisational structure and greater focus on its core food and retail businesses.

Woolworths entered the gaming industry in 2004 with the ALH joint venture, co-owned by the big hotel owner Bruce Mathieson.

The partnership owns 12,000 gaming machine licence, making it the third biggest Australian pokies operator behind the casino businesses, Crown and Star.


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