Australian Casino And Gambling News, by Greg Tingle - 7th December 2010

G'day maties. It's another jam packed report focusing on “down under” Australia. We've got more on the the Aussie pubs, clubs and gaming industry at war with the government, fanatical MP's out of touch with society, another casino attack, Aristocrat shares taking a massive dive and much more. Media Man and Gambling911 with the latest, greatest and hardest hitting from Aussie land...

Country Clubs Name MPs Andrew Wilkie and Nick Xenophon Fanatical; Out Of Touch With Society, Pen Pushers With Own Agendas...

Independent MPs Andrew Wilkie and Nick 'Mr X' Xenophon have been named "narrow-minded" and "fanatics" at their virgin meeting with Country Club members over planned gambling - gaming reforms. The meet at Narrabri in north-central New South Wales was the begging of a national consultation process over Wilkie's deal with the Federal Government to introduce mandatory pre-commitment technology for "one armed bandits" by 2014. The shake up would mean every poker player down under would be allowed to gamble only up to their "pre-stated limits". Clubs NSW says ATMs in clubs and pubs will also be modified so the maximum withdrawal for an individual is $250 per day. Sounds a bit like madness already. Club officials think the reforms will damage clubs and the sporting and charitable organisations they support. Narrabri RSL club president Barry Stanford says he reckons country clubs should be exempt from the changes, as their circumstances are different from big city clubs. "These guys (the independent MPs) have set an agenda they don't know anything about," Stanford said. "They don't know anything about our town or towns that we belong to." Senator Xenophon said he wanted a "robust discussion" and he got one. Narrabri RSL chief executive and Clubs NSW representative Paul Gordon advised the independents have been unprepared to negotiate on the pre-commitment plans. "I am left astounded that you both, as elected representatives of the people, can be so narrow-minded, stubborn and fanatical and indifferent towards the majority of Australians," Gordon said. He says the proposed changes to ATM withdrawal limits will severely disadvantage the elderly and retirees, who like to withdraw money in a safe environment. Wilkie then appealed to the crowd to help find a solution to the scourge of problem gambling. "The decision has been made... I now come to you and ask you to work with me, Nick and the Federal Government to work out a system that diminishes problem gambling but does not harm the clubs. I hope you will agree we have a moral obligation to help problem gamblers." A lot of the alarm is the 'Big Brother' mandatory pre-commitment...a system whereby every pokie player will have to register using a card or some other tech and have their play tracked. Every player will need to set a pre-determined limit on how much money they can gamble; once they lose that amount they cannot put any more money through the poker machines. The player will not be able to go to another club or venue because every poker machine across the country will be connected. Gordon says there are better ways to deal with the minority of problem gamblers in country towns, accusing the independents of "bringing a gun to a schoolyard scuffle". Armidale City Bowling Club chief executive Phil Wheaton says his club actively supports 81 community and sporting organisations. "You have got to be joking; you are going to take 40# of our revenue... friggin' hell, I have got a vote," he said. The Narrabri Golf Club, which is already under financial strain, says if the reforms go ahead it will not survive. But Wilkie says the clubs are "peddling misinformation" as they ramp up a campaign against the gambling reforms. "The amount of good clubs do is often grossly exaggerated by the industry. There is not nearly as much going back into the community as some of these clubs would have you believe. But the fact is they do do good and I don't want to diminish that good." Senator Xenophon says small clubs with around 10 poker machines can apply for special consideration when the reforms are implemented, and that includes any club in financial peril. An insider said "It's the government's Big Brother tactics, and pokie hating MP's that have really got people offside. It's also got an Australia Card' type approach to it. Us true blue Aussie's don't like to be told what to do, what to think... what to spend our time or money on. That government just won't last and now has a massive fight on its hands".

Wilkie Means Business On Hard Line Approach...

Wilkie says he is "remarkably unworried about the pressure the industry is bringing to bear. "What the industry needs to understand is that they are lobbying the MPs as though we are having a discussion of whether there will be or won't there be poker machine reform. The decision has been made. There will be unprecedented reform on poker machines and problem gambling in Australia. They can lobby all the politicians until the cows come home but it won't mean anything because the decision has been made." Footy clubs, RSL clubs are not going to take it lying down. Chris Hart, a supervisor at the Steelers Club in Wollongong, says he is wearing a badge opposing the changes because he believes they could cost him his job and pay packet. "I am wearing this badge because it is part of a campaign against the mandatory pre-commitment changes and it involves a customer having to scan their thumb on a machine so they commit an amount of money and once they reach that limit they can't do it anywhere else in Australia," Hart said. "I really think it will have a devastating effect on clubs like this." Emma Sumner also works at the Steelers footy club. She says mandatory pre-commitment won't work and the club could close down if it is forced to implement the new technology. "It isn't a good idea because we will lose about 40% of our revenue and it means we can't support out local team, the Illawarra Dragons," she said. Sumner reckons that she sees problem gamblers in the club but does not believe anyone can intervene. "When you work in this industry you do see people and you think how much money have they put in today, but then again it is really none of our business ... it is their sort of business." Clubs say they are happy to support pre-commitment reforms (as long as they are voluntary) and they are calling on PM Gillard to meet them to discuss the issue. Readers, if you have a put, know your limits, and stick to them.

Tabcorp Casino Chips Seized In Drug Investigation...

Countfeit casino chips are still extremely popular with crims down under, and northern Australia cities appear to have developed networks thick into the action. Roughly 60 thousand dollars worth of cash and casino chips have been seized by law enforcement in a large Sunshine Coast drug trafficking investigation. Coppers have arrested at least 10 people on as many as 30 charges in the joint Criminal Investigation Branch and Tactical Crime Squad operation. There has been $26,000 in cash and $36,000 in casino chips seized from a Warana premises. The casino chips range in value from $100 to $1000 and belong to Tabcorp's Conrad Jupiters and Star City casinos. Yesterday police and the "dog squad" raided a Kunda Park wheel and tyre business this morning over allegations of drug trafficking. A man in his 30s was assisting police with their search at the business. Detectives and the dog squad were at the scene which is the centre of a lengthy drug trafficking and supply investigation. A residence in Buderim was also searched. Neighbouring businesses shared differing opinions about the Kunda Park raid, but all described the man at the centre of the raid as a "very likable person."

How Smart Are Aussie Gambling Smartcards?...

So called "problem gamblers" will not be forced to set limits on how much they plunge on the pokies despite the Federal Government vowing to mandate smartcards designed to cut players' losses. Queensland gamblers have started voluntarily using special swipe cards to limit their poker machine losses four years ahead of the Government making the so-called "pre-commitment" technology compulsory, or at least that's the spin been dished out by Australian government departments. More than 1000 of the state's pokies players are using new technology in-built into poker machine swipe cards to set daily limits on how much they gamble, a problem gambling conference on the Gold Coast has been told. Queensland was one of the first states to introduce the cards ahead of the Gillard Government's plan to make compulsory their use in all Australian gaming venues, except land based casinos, by 2014. The cards were put forward by the Australian Productivity Commission in a report earlier this year, which found Australians gambled $19 billion in 2008-2009 – $12 billion of it on pokies. Despite talking tough on the loss-limiting technology, warning the Commonwealth will override the states if they fail to back its introduction, federal Families Minister Jenny Macklin says pokies players will not be forced to set a limit on how much they spend.
Instead, they could "choose to set no limit at all", Macklin told the National Association of Gambling Studies conference at Jupiters Casino. She said this would give Australia's 10,000s of thousands of problem gamblers "greater control" while allowing others to continue to enjoy playing the machines. Ms Macklin said pre-commitment technology was "a tool" which would allow problem gamblers to "set a limit and help them stick to it". "It's certainly not about the Government controlling people's money. "It's not about taking away people's individual responsibility for their own behaviour." Declan Martschinke, from Max Gaming – which makes the pre-commitment poker machine cards already being used in Queensland venues...said the gambling industry did not favour punters being forced to set spending limits. He said having mandatory pre-commitment cards would make people think about how much they were gambling. "It's a good tool for harm minimisation." he said, adding the cards stopped people from gambling any more once they reached their daily limit – which could be as high as $10,000. The cards could also be used to obtain spending statements. He said 35,000 cashless gaming cards had been issued to pokies players in clubs and pubs, but only about 1000 cardholders had taken up the option to set spending limits. Industry insiders say the government is all spin on this matter, and have a set agenda. Clubs Australia and the clubs, pubs and hotel industry is just now starting to fight back, and is generating strong support with communities and of course, patrons.

Aristocrat Leisure Ltd Shares Suffer 7 Year Low...

Shares in Aristocrat Leisure Ltd slumped to a near seven-year low after the gaming machine maker flagged a fall in full year operating profit as it struggles in North America and Japan.

Ex AFL Coach Convicted Of Fraud, Repaid Gambling Loans Led To Jail...

Former Brisbane Lions' assistant coach Daryn Cresswell, 39, has been jailed for fraud offences. He pleaded guilty to two counts of fraud in the Maroochydore District Court today. He was sentenced to 3 years in jail suspended after 10 months. Cresswell used false documents and a fake name to borrow hundreds of thousands of dollars in Queensland in 2005 and 2006 to repay gambling debts. The National Australia Bank (NAB) made an application for bankruptcy against Cresswell in June 2008. He was declared bankrupt in April last year. Court documents showed he owed the bank more than $500,000. Cresswell played 244 games for the Sydney Swans before retiring to take up coaching positions with the Brisbane Lions, the Geelong Cats, the Tasmanian Devils and the New South Wales AFL club, Manly-Warringah. He was also coach of Tasmania's former VFL side.

Northern Queensland Pokie Bandit Fights By Police Dog, Dog - 1; Bandit - Nil...

An alleged bandit was tasered and two others fled from police after they were caught trying to crack open poker machines at a tavern in Queensland's southeast. The three men, armed with heavy tools, broke into the Highfields Tavern, in Toowoomba's north, just after midnight on Monday, police said. They gained entry to the tavern's gaming room and began to hack into poker machines, Sergeant Jamie Deacon told the press. "They damaged six poker machines with a sledge hammer and/or crowbar," he said. "They removed cash boxes from each machine." The gang set off the alarm during the raid and police, including the dog squad, arrived a short time later. Two of the men fled. The third, armed with a screwdriver, approached a police dog and his handler in a threatening manner. When the man failed to follow police instructions the dog was released, police said in a statement. The man suffered minor injuries to his right thigh. Police will allege the man continued to struggle with the dog and in fear of the dog's safety his handler fired a taser at the man. The man dropped the weapon and grabbed at the snout of the dog before being taken into custody. The 33-year-old, from the nearby town of Drayton, was arrested and charged with possession of implements, assaulting police, and break-and-enter. He is due to appear in the Toowoomba Magistrate's Court on Monday. Police investigations are continuing and officers are examining possible links to other offences in the area. "He's a well-known Toowoomba person," Sgt Deacon said. The other two men remain on the run. Crime does not pay.

How did you find the report today? Offer your opinion in the Gambling911 forum.

If you have a bet, bet with your head, not over it, and for God's sake, have fun.

*Greg Tingle is a Special Contributor to the Gambling911.com website and proprietor of Media Man International

*Media Man is primarily a media, publicity and internet portal development company. They also offer political analysis.

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