As the chief advocate for the Alliance for Gambling Reform (AGR), Costello has been deeply involved in the fight to bring meaningful positive change to New South Wales’ gaming market. The organization aims to protect ordinary people from gambling harm and curb the industry’s criminal times and money laundering potential. To that end, they have been relentlessly pushing for significant reforms despite fierce resistance from lobbying groups.
NSW’s Gambling Woes Have Been Getting Worse
In a recent interview with The Sydney Morning Herald, Reverend Tim Costello discussed New South Wales’ position as one of the world’s most beleaguered areas in terms of gambling addiction. While sentiment towards change has been slowly gathering momentum, powerful pokie lobbies are doing everything they can to maintain their grip over the province.
Pokies in New South Wales are currently the leading force behind Australia’s ignominious spot as the country with the most gambling losses per head worldwide, leading the runner-up by forty percent. According to Costello, the pokie machines’ ubiquity, addictiveness, and the industry built around them endanger otherwise law-abiding citizens.
The problem in NSW is accessibility because (pokies) are on every second block, open 24 hours.
The Reverend quoted data from the NSW Productivity Commission, revealing that 62% of pokie revenue came from people suffering from gambling addiction. Furthermore, poker machines are widely acknowledged as the easiest way to launder money in Australia, tying the industry to criminal elements and compromising player safety even more. Fortunately, Costello and the AGR have the perfect solution to both these problems.
The AGR Has the Perfect Solution to Reign in Pokies
The idea for a cashless gaming card has been floating around for a while but only recently managed to gain traction with high-profile officials like NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet. Such a card would be linked to the player’s debit account, allowing them to set a daily gambling limit. The loss of anonymity would also severely hamper money laundering, solving two pressing issues with one swift move.
That gets rid of the criminals because they’ll never reveal their identity… and it allows people to set their own limits when they are thinking straight.
Despite a proven solution and year-long efforts, the AGR is facing stiff resistance from the pokie industry, which insists on implementing self-regulation instead. Costello dismissed the idea as “putting Dracula in charge of the blood bank.” He expressed hope that rising awareness would help amass sufficient political will to implement meaningful reforms, tackling the social misery caused by pokies once and for all.