Loyalty Cards to Extend to Pokies

The fight to implement pre-commitment on pokies has taken an interesting turn as a new plan has been put into action to provide gamblers with loyalty cards that carry out this exact function. The primary objective here is to allow gamblers to set their own betting limits on their pokies losses by using a loyalty card, similar to the ones that many shops provide in order to tempt customers back to spend more money.

The state government is aiming to provide voluntary pre-commitment cards for every machine in Victoria by the end of 2015, which includes those found in the Crown Casino. The system will be brought to life by Intralot Gaming Services, which has set out to combine loyalty programs with betting limits on one card, and it expects success.

A spokesman for Gaming Minister Edward O’Donohue has said that the pros and cons of this new scheme are currently under consideration and factors to take into account include how cost effective the cards will be, how beneficial they will be to the gamblers and how well consumers will be protected.

Monash University public health senior lecturer Charles Livingstone is against the idea and does not believe it is wise to combine loyalty programs with pre-commitment schemes. His problem with pre-commitment was that the gaming industry only favours it because it is unlikely to have much of an effect and for gaming groups, it is just an opportunity for them to take advantage of the loyalty program for their own ends. For this reason, the system would need to be very carefully planned but it would be wrong to use it for marketing in any capacity.

Opposition spokesman Martin Pakula is also against this plan and says the minister should not rule in favour of it. Handing over the pre-commitment system contract to a company like Intralot is a very daring move, especially in light of the problems it has faced with the monitoring of pokies in Victoria.

An Intralot spokesman says that the company is aware of the problems it encountered with its monitoring system but they were minor and have since been fixed.

Despite the debate, the government is confident that the pre-commitment system will help problem gamblers play more responsibly, whatever form it took. Apparently research has provided evidence that gamblers are unaware of just how much they spend on pokies but with pre-commitment they will be able to keep track of it more accurately.

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Illegal Casino Uncovered in Sydney

In a plot that sounds like something taken straight out of a movie, an illegal casino was discovered by the police in the western suburbs of Sydney. This is the first time in decades that such an establishment has been uncovered. The casino in question was found above a supermarket at Endesor Park, although no link is believed to exist between the illegal casino and the legitimate business below it.

The police had the search warrant required to investigate the premises and when they raided the building, they found quite a setup. There were in fact two gaming areas complete with professional poker tables, gambling chips, a pool table and several large flat screen TVs. In addition to this, food and alcohol was available for the casino’s visitors. Police raided the casino at 10.30pm and discovered the staff preparing for the intended night of gambling ahead. Despite the find however, no charges were made by the police as no one was actually engaging in the act of gambling when they were there.

The police had received information on the illegal establishment from various members of the public and after some investigation, a search warrant was finally acquired so that the premises themselves could be checked. Such activity was once common in Australia but this is a particularly unusual find in this day and age and is the first of its kind to be discovered in years. However, it does raise the question as to just how many secret casinos there are in operation.

While no arrests were made on this occasion, the investigation is continuing. Paperwork was taken, as well as a CCTV hard drive recorder, both of which should provide some useful evidence. Suspiciously enough, the casino was found behind a door with a sign reading, “Members Only”, which gave way to a staircase and rooms above the supermarket. The proprietors of the shop below denied all knowledge of the casino, as did the neighbours living in the vicinity of the building. There is however an Assyrian social club next to the premises and the possibility of a link between it and the casino is also currently under investigation.

Back in the 80s and 90s illegal underground casinos were much more commonplace and many of them were operated by immigrants. This has also turned out to be the case now as the casino uncovered was being operated by middle-eastern citizens. Whether this is an isolated incident or the tip of an iceberg remains to be seen.

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Gambling Logos on Football Jumpers May Be Banned

Another step may be taken in the effort to protect children from sports betting, although there is some debate as to whether it is one step further than necessary. Tom Waterhouse recently came under fire for the way he was spruiking live betting odds during sports broadcasts but now the question is being raised about whether football jumpers that display betting company logos should be banned or not, the argument being that children look up to these players and gambling shouldn’t be part of that image.

The joint select committee on gambling reform recommends a review of merchandise that features the gambling logos from Sports Minister Kate Lundy, as well as a review of betting promotion overall at sports venues. The effect of gambling advertising on children is also to be investigated by the Australian Gambling Research Centre.

One issue is that the corporate bookmakers who put a lot of money into Australia’s gambling market would suffer. The issue is currently under review but if a ban on gambling advertising during primetime did come to pass, it might extend far beyond Julia Gillard’s intervention to cut live betting odds from sports broadcasts. This new TV code of practice would permit the broadcasting of gambling promotions before and after games, as well as at half and quarter time. But whether any of these changes would actually protect children is questionable.

Evidence has shown that children are already familiar with different betting companies and Tom Waterhouse has also been known to sign autographs for children at NRL matches. The fact that he is recognised as a celebrity by children is of some concern and it was the controversy surrounding his appearances on live football broadcasts that led to Gillard banning live updates of betting odds, as well as removing odds spruikers from the commentary team.

The committee has said that it shares the same concern as the community regarding the influence sports betting promotions and advertisement can have on younger viewers and that since NRL and AFL market themselves as family sports and are regarded as such, they should not be exposing children to the world of sports betting, especially not to the extent that they have so far.

A spokesman for Communications Minister Stephen Conroy said that he is satisfied that the networks have already achieved the right balance with the recent changes and that parents should stop worrying as their children can now enjoy sports events without being subjected to gambling advertising during the games.

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A Brief History of Gambling Laws in Australia

Since Australia as we know it is relatively young, gambling has always been present in some form, European settlers having brought it with them. Of course, with gambling comes rules and these were also present, albeit ignored.
Gambling laws date all the way back to the late 18th century when soldiers played and made bets on such card games as cribbage and unsuccessful attempts were made to put a stop to it.

But regulated gambling was not really established until 1810 when it arrived in the form of the first official horse race. Gambling on these races was permitted in the clubs but only those higher up, such as army officers were permitted to do so. Horse racing became increasingly popular and 1891 saw the introduction of the Melbourne Cup.

From the development of racing culture, betting grew, including much illegal activity such as off-course betting. This would later be counteracted in the 1970s by the introduction of off-course Totalisator Agency Boards, or TABs, in order to offer a legal alternative that would also generate significant gambling-tax revenues for the government. Other forms of sportsbetting would remain illegal however until the 1980s when TABs would go on to cover other sports. Sportsbetting was eventually legalised online in 1996 first in Northern Territory and later in other states.

But during this time other forms of gambling were still in practise. One particularly notable early legal form of gambling was the birth of Tattersall’s lottery in 1881, which began as a private lottery. However the first government-run lottery was the Golden Casket Art Union, introduced in 1916 with charitable intentions. Economic recession in the 1930s would lead to more state lotteries, in an effort to boost revenue. Lotteries continued to grow in popularity, becoming more commercialised and frequent. However while the government favoured this form of gambling, most others were still illegal until the 1970s.

Casino gambling, both real and simulated online, is what draws the majority of Australian gamblers, although this is mainly down to the pokies they house. Casinos would not be allowed until 1973 as they were perceived as too disruptive and difficult to control, not that this put people off. As always, the decision to legalise casino gambling would be an economic one. Legalising gambling would carry with it two primary benefits; controlling illegal gambling and boosting government revenues. With economic difficulties present legalised gambling would help stabilise economic development and in the wake of increasing tourism, this would prove especially lucrative.

Of course this legalisation did not happen overnight. It began with small, low-key club casinos introduced to breathe new life into the economy in the 1970s. Recession and restructuring of regional economies in the early 1980s led to the development of larger American-style casinos, which would pave the way for international investment opportunities. Casino culture really became fully formed in the 1990s when large casino complexes were introduced and gambling truly became a legitimate form of entertain in Australia.

Poker machines were already widely used before casinos, and would only spread once these larger venues were established. Pokies were legalised in 1956 in New South Wales when their potential for generating income was recognised. This was a huge turning point that would have a permanent impact on gambling culture in Australia. The popularity of pokies spread and by the 1980s they were the dominant form of gambling in Australia.

State governments have however implicated their own various regulations in order to keep gambling under control but with so much revenue emerging as a result of gambling, it seems the law is more in favour of gambling than ever before.

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Echo Bites Back Against “Smear Campaign”

As the war between Crown and Echo over Sydney’s casino licence rages on, chairman of Echo Entertainment John O’Neill has vocalised his support of chief executive John Redmond and cited James Packer’s activity as a “cheap smear campaign”, carried out with the approaching deadline in mind.

O’Neill did not explicitly name Crown as the guilty party but it was heavily implied that he believes a recent internal investigation into Redmond’s actions was put into action by Crown as a means to harm Echo’s chances regarding the NSW government’s final decision. This comes at a time when Echo’s shares are lower than ever as a result a Crown selling its stake.

However O’Neill had nothing but good things to say about Redmond and his work as Echo’s leader since January. The investigation in question was carried out to review his behaviour that staff attributed to drinking when he fell asleep in one of The Star’s bars, resulting in him being escorted to his room. During the review, security footage of him on that night was studied and led to him being cleared of all allegations. The official statement from Echo explained that Redmond was merely jetlagged after flying in from the US earlier that day and sitting through meetings.

Echo is now considering taking legal action over accusations of Redmond being drunk when the inquiry made it clear that this was not the case. Echo already has a rocky relationship with the NSW government after a case involving sexual harassment at The Star last year and Redmond is playing a vital part in improving that relationship, while his performance so far has garnered plenty of praise from O’Neill.

The Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority was also involved with the investigation by Echo’s request and no evidence of a breach of any rules regarding alcohol was found. Echo’s investors have mixed opinions on Redmond and some are perfectly happy with his work, while others are waiting to make their minds up as he has spent less than six months in his position.

Echo currently holds Sydney’s only casino licence, which is used to operate The Star, but it expires in 2019. James Packer hopes to claim it as his own after that so he can operate his own high-roller casino, which will make up a large part of his $1 billion luxury hotel project at Barangaroo. However Echo is also looking to extend its licence and remain Sydney’s sole casino operator, promising to put $1 billion into hotel developments and other investments. But only one proposal can go ahead and both must be submitted to the government by June 21.

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Crown and Echo Cannot Both Gain Approval

Echo may have tried to come up with a Sydney solution that suits both them and Crown but as its proposal is considered, the head of the deciding panel has made it clear that either the proposed Crown casino or The Star’s redevelopment will be chosen but there is no way both of them can go ahead.

With its proposal Echo tried to achieve the best of both worlds but panellist David Murray, former chief executive of the Commonwealth Bank, has stressed that both proposals are exclusive and one cannot work with the other. Until now Murray kept the developments to himself but has now spoken out on The Star’s proposal. The problem with it was that it relied on an extension of its exclusive casino licence and if this were to happen, there would be no way Crown’s proposal could go ahead. It is simply a case of one or the other.

Echo Entertainment tried to outdo Packer’s proposal by offering a $250 million payment to the government in return for its continued exclusivity and a $1.1 billion development, as well as funding the construction of a bridge that would lead to Barangaroo. With its proposal, Echo has the ambitious vision of turning Pyrmont, Darling Harbour and Barangaroo into a resort reminiscent of Singapore. Chairman of Echo John O’Neill still hopes to go ahead with his own plans even if Crown does win the casino licence for Sydney, provided it would restrict itself to international rebate business.

Premier Barry O’Farrell has even been encouraged by the New South Wales Business Chamber to consider both proposals together but, as Murray explains, opting for Crown’s proposal would not allow for Echo to carry out its own redevelopments. Of course, it is no secret that of the two proposals, it is Crown’s epic Barangaroo casino resort that appeals to him the most and it certainly looks as if this is the direction the panel will head in. He even called an early cabinet meeting last week in an effort to speed up the decision process and resolve the matter once and for all but this was cancelled after Echo submitted its own proposal.

As it stands, there is still much work to be done before a final decision can be made and while next week is a possible deadline, there is too much to do to guarantee an answer by then. But one thing is for sure, only one proposal will be successful so they will need to choose carefully.

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Craigie Seeks More Investment in Tourism

Crown Casino chief Rowen Craigie is looking to boost Australia’s tourism sector with a call to invest more money into airports, hotels and speeding up the visa application process. It all falls into his plans to capitalise on the lucrative Asian gambling demographic by competing with such leaders as Singapore and Macau for its attention.

Craigie recently revealed that Crown has experienced a 22.9% drop in full-year profit, sending it down to just $395.8 million. Crown’s current projects are no secret and the headlines have been dominated by the Barangaroo development in Sydney. Crown has plans to sink billions of dollars into a monolithic casino and hotel resort and is also looking to expand into Brisbane and dominate the market there, but just how successful these ventures are will hinge largely on how much of China’s middle-class holiday market will be tempted by these new facilities. For this reason, Craigie wants to revamp Australia’s tourism and entertainment infrastructure in order to bring this crowd in.

Craigie places particular importance on visas, direct flights, airports themselves and accommodation. Every country in the world is allegedly reaching out to the Chinese middle-class market and so Australia should strive to accommodate them and become their most attractive holiday destination. Of course, Crown is heavily invested in this market already and is prepared to fight both sides of this tourism war. After all, the company does have a 34% investment in Melco Crown Entertainment, which operates a casino resort in tourism rival Macau, while its own Australian casinos already draw in plenty of Asian high-rollers.

However 2013 has seen significant changes take place in Chinese leadership, which in turn has had an effect on the VIP high-rollers and, consequently, Crown’s revenue. At the end of the financial year, Crown has had mixed fiscal results, following the effect of various factors.

The Crown Casino in Melbourne has experienced a boost in earnings from the mass market, while normalised group profit has risen 14% up to $473.2 million. However, the rise in revenue on the main gambling floor has been minimal at just 0.9%, as a result of refurbishments causing disruptions to gamblers. Less successful were the basic games and pokies, which were actually down since last year, due to the popularity of the private rooms within the casino. VIP gaming yielded much more positive results with a 9.2% boost, while the Perth Casino main floor also enjoyed a 9.7% rise. Overall, shares in Crown closed at an all-time high and were up 76¢ at $14.34.

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Clayton Hotel Pushes For More Pokies

It has been 18 months in the making and it seems that no one is intending to back down at any point soon as the struggle for new pokies at Clayton’s L’Unico Hotel continues in full force. The hotel in question has been pushing for the approval of seven new pokies machines but so far the Monash Council has stood firmly against this proposal. Nevertheless, the campaign rages on.

Interestingly enough, the Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation has defied the advice of the council and is currently locked in combat with them to approve the new machines. The matter is now being debated at the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal.

However it does not seem as if a decision either way will be reached on this matter and with seven days of hearings behind it, the Tribunal has yet to come to a conclusion. The hotel’s plan to bring in some new pokies will not come cheap and forms part of a larger redevelopment of the venue, which amounts to a huge $3.3 million. The thinking behind this proposal is that additional machines will help cover these costs. Last week council representatives were locked in an argument with the hotel about just how necessary the redevelopment would be but it can only be put into action if the new pokies are approved beforehand.

The hotel explained to the hearing that its redevelopment would feature a new community space and that various parts of the venue would be refurbished and made more appealing for visitors. Gambling industry expert Leigh Barrett reasoned that the proposed increase of just seven machines from 28 to 35 was a relatively small one that would not prove particularly harmful, while consultant Colleen Peterson said that problem gamblers were already attracted to the venue in its current state. While the prospect of additional machines was not so appealing to her, she did at least appreciate that the redevelopment would provide other benefits to the community. Overall, the plans would have a net mutual outcome and so new pokies would be acceptable in that respect.

To L’Unico Hotel’s credit, it did offer a $30,000 donation to the community if its wish for new pokies won approval. The council first rejected the idea back in January last year but, following that, the VCGLR overturned its decision in May last year. The council has in fact approved the redevelopment plans for the hotel in their own right but the issue remains that it is entirely dependent on whether the additional pokies are permitted or not.

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Change Machines Banned in Early Hours

A further measure has been taken in the fight against problem gambling and, although it is a relatively small one, it could prove to be quite an effective way to cut down on the amount gamblers are putting into pokies machines. Following the ban of ATMs in pokies venues, the change machine has been the next victim of the gradual gambling reforms, although it has not undergone an outright ban. In accordance with new regulations, any machines that dispense coins in gambling venues must be shut down in the early hours of the morning, in order to prevent gamblers from changing any notes to fund further gambling during these designated hours.

This is not quite as extensive as the move originally intended by anti-pokies campaigners but it is certainly a step in the right direction. If people like Senator Nick Xenophon had their way then the venues themselves would be closed between 2am and 8am, while change machines would be dispensed with altogether. While this has not come to pass, the machines themselves will be disabled during these hours so while gambling is still possible, it will be harder to obtain the change required to operate them.

Xenophon feels that coin machines should not be permitted as they eliminate the human element that is vital to helping gamblers control their spending. Many venues do have specially trained members of staff who can recognise problem gamblers or those at risk and offer them assistance or refuse them service. Of course, a change machine does not provide the same discretion and if there is a way to skip any human interaction that might hinder their gambling, many problem gamblers will go for the easier option.

Anglicare SA was also opposed to the operation of pokies machines before 10am on weekdays and between 2am and 8am on weekends, especially since the more vulnerable problem gamblers tend to gamble during these times. These include drug abusers, alcoholics, the unemployed and those on low incomes, which is why it is vital to help protect them from themselves. While venues are allowed to continue operating during these times, the disabling of the change machines should at least go some way to helping reduce spending on pokies.

There is however another issue presented by the disabling of change machines. With gamblers being forced to consult staff members for change, this results in more physical money being held by the cashier, which is much less secure than the safe inside a change machine. Spending may decrease but there is also an increased risk of theft during these hours.

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Things That Brilliant Casino Gamers Always Do Right

A lot of us enjoy online casino gaming for fun; but there is no reason why we should not profit from this avenue of entertainment. In order to do so, we need to do more than just propitiate the goddess of luck. There is always a correct way to do things, and this adage holds very true for online casino gaming. Let us take a look at the things that champion gamers invariably do right.
Know when to take risks and when to step back. Know the difference between bravery and bravado. A clear understanding of how fluid the situation can be in games like blackjack is an invaluable asset. Learn how to take smart risks.

One of the most basic and most significant attributes possessed by successful gamers is that they are expert in the art of bankroll management. They can get the maximum out the money in their online casino account deposit. By the simple act of playing more with a given amount of bankroll money, a good gamer gives himself more chances at winning.

Online gamers who are passionate about the game pursue it with diligence but never in a hot-headed way. Patience is a virtue that pays rich dividends to every player. Good players are always learning; for them the learning process never stops.

You will rarely ever hear of a successful gamer getting conned at a shady online casino. This is because good gamers always do the requisite due diligence and read the terms and conditions thoroughly. They also do a background check on casinos before investing any time and money with them.

Do not feel that smart and successful online casino goers are only those that play for money and play hard to win. In fact, many those who play purely for recreation can teach a thing or two to those casino patrons that are looking to get a sustainable income from playing games online. For nine out of ten gamers, the smartest thing to do is to play within limits with respect to time and money.

Let us round off this article by listing some abilities that top class online casino gamers invariably possess. This includes the ability to keep emotions in check. This comes in handy when playing live dealer multiplayer games in which you can see your fellow players as well.

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