Australia in the News — Weekly Round-up for October 27, 2017

Crown Resorts Chairman Lambastes Anti-Gambling Politician (Update)

Wilkie’s allegations on money laundering and tampering with pokies characterised as “deeply offensive” and “outrageous’

The chairman of Crown Resorts, John Alexander, has come out with all guns firing following allegations in the Australian parliament this week by independent anti-gambling politician Andrew Wilkie that Crown whistleblowers have accused the company of tampering with pokie machines and skirting anti-money laundering laws (see previous InfoPowa report).

In an open letter addressed to Wilkie, Alexander augmented earlier denials by the company and said:

“I am angered and disappointed by the outrageous allegations that have been leveled at us by Andrew Wilkie.

“If he believes he has evidence of wrongdoing, he should stop the political games, step out of the parliament and make his claims without privilege.

“Crown operates in a strictly regulated environment, with multiple government agencies and state law enforcement bodies supervising our operations. We have a sophisticated anti-money-laundering program and we take compliance with Austrac requirements very seriously.”

Crown’s shares have taken a hammering this week, wiping around A$500 million off its market cap, although the sell-offs had eased by Friday.

New Australian Online Bookmaker Launches

Neds supports launch with a slew of short television adverts

The new Aussie sports betting operator Neds has launched in the local market, supported by an integrated advertising and promotional campaign and distinctive brand platform developed by Ogilvy Brisbane.

The campaign aims to connect with the ‘modern Aussie bloke’ using the tagline Time To Bet and features a range of five different television and social media advertisements targeted on the male demographic..

“The betting category is already cluttered, and one that generally adheres to tried and tested codes, such as celebrity ambassadors, price promotions, or the latest functionality.  It would be easy for a new and unknown brand like Neds to get lost in that clutter. For these reasons, we knew we had to do something completely different,” a spokesman for Ogilvie Brisbane explained in a statement over the weekend.

“After some research with Australian blokes we uncovered a startling truth – 80 percent of our audience feel pressured by the demands of modern life and yearn for ‘me time’,” he said.

The campaign will run nationally across TV, OOH, Radio, Online, and Digital. See the vid previews here:

Australian Senator Muzzled On New Crown Cheating Allegations (Update)

Independent Senator Andrew Wilkie thwarted in attempts to air information in the Australian Senate from a fourth whistleblower

Whistleblower accusations that Australian gambling group Crown Resorts tampered with its pokie machines and contravened other critical regulations (see previous InfoPowa reports) were compounded Tuesday when independent Senator Andrew Wilkie attempted to table further allegations from a fourth whistleblower, but was prevented from doing so.

Despite Wilkie’s rather melodramatic claims that the fourth whistleblower feared for his life, Government Minister Chris Pyne ruled against the tabling, observing that the convention of parliamentary privilege was never designed to permit politicians to expand on “slanderous or defamatory” allegations.

Pyne was backed by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, who observed that the Australian federal police, the financial regulator Austrac, and the Victorian provincial regulator are already conducting inquiries into the allegations, and that a parliamentary inquiry called for by Wilkie is unnecessary.

Crown Resorts has vehemently denied the whistleblower accusations Wilkie has championed in parliament, challenging the Senator to step outside privilege in parliament and substantiate the allegations.

Thwarted by his political peers, Wilkie later told media reporters that he would add the fourth whistleblower’s evidence to that submitted to the Victoria police, citing an apparent lack of interest in the issue in parliament, and suggesting that this may be due to the main political parties uniting to support the gambling industry.

However, in an interesting new wrinkle to the growing political acrimony around the allegations it has emerged that the Electrical Trades Union has confronted Crown Resorts over a decision to outsource its pokie maintenance contract.This allegedly led to the retrenchment of 16 of its union members.

Questioned whether any of his four whistleblowers were among those who had been made redundant, Christie refused to answer, saying that he would not give any information that may help identify the anonymous whistleblowers.

Jelly Bean Omission Costly For Gambling Firm

Tabcorp hit with A$10,000 in costs, and A$750 for each of two breaches of the NSW advertising promotions regulations

A court in New South Wales slapped the Tabcorp gambling group with fines and costs after the company acknowledged guilt in two infringements of NSW regulations in a promotion in the Sydney CBD in March this year.

The promo involved handing out jelly bean promotional bags emblazoned with the slogans “Nothing’s as sweet as a win” and “We love a bet TAB”….but no warning message as required by the regulations (see previous InfoPowa reports).

Tabcorp was convicted on two counts and sentenced to pay A$10,000 in costs, and A$750 for each of two breaches of the NSW advertising promotions regulations.

Sean Goodchild, director of compliance at Liquor & Gaming NSW, reminded licensees that warning messages regarding gambling must be carried on all gambling advertising and promotional material.

“Such warnings are an important part of the Government’s commitment to prevent and reduce harms linked to problem gambling,” he said. “The notice also informs people of gambling help support services.”

Australian Anti-Gambling Senator Leaving Federal Politics

Xenophon to focus on his SA Best Party and provincial politics in South Australia

One of Australia’s most vocal opponents of gambling, independent Sen. Nick Xenophon, is leaving the federal political scene to focus on his SA Best Party and South Australian provincial politics, according to local media reports Friday.

Despite his departure from Canberra, Xenophon will continue to wield influence in the federal parliament through his political party, he told reporters.

“The difference with nine years ago, when I got into the Senate, is that I now have colleagues with me that are very capable and very passionate and will continue to raise and fight the issue of poker machines and the damage of online gambling in the federal parliament,” Senator Xenophon told ABC radio.

“Stirling Griff, Skye Kakoschke-Moore, Rebekha Sharkie, all of them will continue to take a very strong interest and advocate passionately for this.

“There will still be three of my colleagues in the Senate, Rebekha Sharkie in the lower house … my colleagues get on extremely well, we have a very good working relationship and there will be this great synergy between the state and federal party.”