Casting Doubt Over the Science

 

The gambling industry works to undermine scientific consensus


INDUSTRY HAS A LONG HISTORY OF FUNDING RESEARCHERS

Industry does this to (i) attack 'unfriendly' research and undermine science, (ii) promote an industry-friendly agenda, usually around individual responsibility and treatment remedies; and (iii) divert policy away from interventions based on products and towards treatment and education campaigns.

This is particularly true in a couple of major overseas jurisdictions especially the USA - see here and the UK - see here.

However, some leading Australian researchers are regular recipients of substantial industry support and are also regularly cited by industry as 'reliable'. They tend also to undermine and question any initiatives or policy that goes against the status quo.  See this article in the Sydney Morning Herald for a 2016 example.

Funding of academic and other researchers


MOST MAJOR GAMBLING RESEARCH CONFERENCES OR MEETINGS ARE SPONSORED BY INDUSTRY.

In Australia, the annual conference of the National Association of Gambling Studies is sponsored by Tabcorp, ClubsNSW, Tatts Group, Casinos and Resorts Australasia, Australian Wagering Council, and the Australasian Gaming Council.

International examples include, the biannual conference of the European Association for the Study of Gambling, which is sponsored by major industry players such as Jogos Santa Casa, IGT (international Gaming Technology) and Novomatic; and the triennial conference on Gambling and Risk Taking of the University of Nevada at Reno, whose industry sponsors include, Caesars Entertainment, IGT, Boyd Gaming and more.

Sponsorship and infiltration of 'scientific' meetings


The gambling industry works to influence public policy in their favour by lobbying government, both directly and indirectly

Major Australian gambling industry bodies Clubs NSW and Clubs Australia in particular have permanent lobbyists on staff, and public relations staff who deal with media in a fairly direct and active way. Their 'government relations' staff include former ALP Ministerial staff (for example, Josh Landis) and Clubs Australia has a strong and regular presence in Canberra. Crown Resorts Ltd also uses this tactic and employs two former very senior ALP figures and others.

During the Wilkie-Gillard agreement to reform the regulation of poker machines, the gambling industry organised an extraordinary presence in Canberra, with delegations visiting MPs every sitting day. It was described at the time as the most overwhelming effort ever seen by one long-term Press Gallery journalist.

There are multiple industry associations whose principal task is to organise industry groups to lobby and influence policy makers. These include the Australian Wagering Council, the Australian Gaming Council, Australian Hotels Association, Clubs NSW, Clubs SA, Clubs Australia, and Casinos and Resorts Australasia.

Lobbying


Gambling industry donations are very substantial at both state and federal level

These include substantial donations to coalition and ALP parties and to individual politicians on both sides. 

A recent example of this is substantial donations to Kevin Andrews, a Victorian Liberal member of Federal parliament, who was opposition spokesperson on gambling issues and subsequently responsible Minister. 

Unsurprisingly party policy was very pokie friendly, albeit antagonistic to other gambling forms see here.

Political Donations


Media and Publicity Campaigns

Clubs NSW/Australia spent more than $2.5 million on TV and other advertising and publicity to denounce the Wilkie-Gillard reforms in 2010-11 and 2011-12 (AEC returns)

An employee prepares for a 'Save Our Clubs' rally in Sydney on Monday, July 25, 2011. The rally, one of a series of such gatherings across NSW, is to protest against the federal government's planned mandatory pre-commitment gambling laws. (AAP Image/Paul Miller)

Clubs Australia ran a campaign implying that if the new pokies reforms came in you would need a ‘licence to punt’. And the industry ran an effective 'political' style campaign see here.

Clubs Australia ran a campaign implying that if the new pokies reforms came in you would need a ‘licence to punt’.

And the industry ran an effective 'political' style campaign see here.


All major gambling industry operators or associations submit to government inquirie

These submissions typically are intended to substitute industry friendly policy for science/evidence based policy. Typically the gambling industry will attack science based evidence and argument, often using 'research' funded by industry.

These include many submissions to inquires conducted by the Productivity Commission as well as state and federal parliamentary inquiries.

Submissions to Official Inquiries


All gambling industry groups support the dogma of 'responsible gambling', which is usually implemented in the form of responsible gambling codes of conduct - often voluntar
 

These are touted as 'being part of the solution' but have almost no evidence base see here (2014 issue 2).

Promoting Individual Responsibility in Place of Effective Regulation


Gambling Operators Threaten Investment Decisions

A key strategy of gambling operators is to threaten not to proceed with investments unless gambling licenses are issued or extended

Some examples of this tactic have been reported here and here.