Anti-poker machine campaigners have slammed supermarket giant Woolworths for introducing a frequent gambling rewards card for poker machines in its string of pokie pubs.
Woolworths’ move is in direct response to government calls for harm minimisation measures to prevent problem gambling – but in typical corporate greed fashion, Woolworths have turned it around to serve their own best interests, effectively mocking the growing problems associated with pokie addiction and reaffirming their position as Anti-Family and pokie friendly
Fly Buys Card For Pokies?!
In December, the ALH Group, which is 96 per cent owned by Woolworths, will roll out the Monty’s Reward card in Victoria and Queensland as its “voluntary pre-commitment” measure, after it was piloted in New South Wales.
Independent senator Nick Xenophon branded Woolworths’ decision as cynical.
“What was meant to be a harm minimisation measure has been turned by Woolworths into a harm-exacerbation measure by using this card,” he said. “This isn’t so much a loyalty card as an addiction card.”
This comes off the back of whatever Woolworths and the ALH Group have just done – because I am sure it’s not good. The Fresh Food people are slowly being known as the Pokies people, and if their penchant for pokies profits continues to come at the expense of the people then maybe it’s time we all paid a visit to our local Coles 😉
Woolworths Pre-Commitment Fly-Buys Card Summary
If the following summary of what the ALH group is doing and where its priorities lie as we move toward 2017 doesn’t say everything you need to know about these people then you’re blinder than Stevie Wonder!
- Woolworths to roll out reward card as its “voluntary pre-commitment” measure
- But anti-pokies campaigners say it is “essentially Fly Buys for gambling”
- Woolworths plans to target children as a way to drive sales in its pokie pubs
The card, designed by poker machine manufacturer Bally Technologies, allows marketing messages to be flashed up on the gambler’s machine as they play, meaning they can order drinks from the machine without interrupting play.
Anti-pokies campaigner Paul Bendat agreed the card is “essentially a Fly Buys for gambling”. “You sign up for a card, you give them a bunch of your personal details and every time you gamble on one of their poker machines, you insert the card,” Mr Bendat said.
“[Voluntary pre-commitment] is the cornerstone of the harm-minimisation policy of the current Victorian Government, ALP, and the past Coalition.
“[This card] is entirely counterproductive. There is no morality in it.”
Buried at the end of the card’s brochure is a paragraph on voluntary pre-commitment – which means the gambler has the option to limit their spending – however, the pre-commitment only lasts for 24 hours.
The Victorian Government has announced it will roll out general pre-commitment technology in December.
But the Victorian Government is Just as Corrupt as The VGCLR, the gambling industry itself and the Federal Govt. that oversees it all.
Both Woolworths and the Victorian Gaming Minister, Jane Garrett, argue that the card is more appealing to punters because it is more “discreet” and had less “stigma” than a stand-alone pre-commitment card. Ms Garrett (who is clearly an idiot and blinded by the corruption of pokie revenue like the rest of our government) made the following (totally moronic and contradictory) statement:
“People like loyalty programs. They like them at their coffee shops, they like them on their plane trips, they like them at their local restaurants – of themselves, loyalty programs are not bad,”
When asked whether encouraging people to gamble more through a rewards card and harm minimisation in poker machines were completely contradictory, Ms Garrett said loyalty programs had “different roles for different people”.
“I’m not tarnishing all of those people who work in this industry and all of the people who enjoy going out to venues and taking their kids out to dinner,” she said.
Senator Xenophon was astonished the Victorian Government had supported such a scheme.
“This is effectively a Trojan horse for more addiction. And the Victorian Government is busy dragging the horse through the gates,” Senator Xenophon said.
There are 328 Woolies-owned pubs across Australia, and of the 73 in Melbourne all but one have poker machines.
WoolWorths – Anti-Family & Pro-Pokies
The move comes as Woolworths, a company which has always marketed itself as proudly family-friendly, has announced to the stock market that it plans to target children as a way to drive sales in its pokie pubs. Wait! What?! Dafuq??!
Buried in the analyst’s report in Woolworths’ company results, released on August 28, is a commitment in its ALH Group section to “promotional offers like kids eat free to drive food sales”.
A visit to those pubs reveals “Kids Clubs”, “kids eat free nights” and children’s entertainment advertised on billboards and online.
The pubs also offer playgrounds for children…. Like THIS ONE AT LANGWARRIN HOTEL – Where owner Peter Beretta agreed to build a brand new childrens playground in exchange for 10 new pokie machines.
Pokies and Children – No Woolworths, Just No.
While Woolworths has previously committed to separating the children’s playgrounds and dining rooms from the pokie floors, 7.30 discovered that they were actually right next to each other in some pubs.
Partially-opaque glass walls did not hide the poker machines and their flashing lights from view from the play equipment and dining rooms.
“This is an immersive experience for young children that normalises gambling,” Mr Bendat said.
“And there’s nothing more powerful than seeing your parents gamble, seeing the grandpas and grandmas that they may observe in the poker machine room.”
Allison Keogh grew up with a mother who started having the odd flutter on the pokies at her local club, but became a full-time problem gambler.
“[Marketing to children in pokie venues] really turns my stomach, because everything to me points to the fact that they are actually the opposite of family friendly – they are separators of family,” Ms Keogh said.
Ms Keogh spent hours nearly every night of the week in the kids’ room at her local club in NSW.
“I still refer to that environment or that room as ‘the jail with pink walls’ – that’s what we called it, that’s what it felt like,” she said.
“Things like homework, dinner time conversation, things like that just didn’t happen.
I do remember a time when my father walked into the kids’ room and found us asleep on the floor and as he picked me up, I woke up, and he muttered ‘this is no life for a kid’.”
…Cause Woolworths sure as shit aren’t going to!
ALH and Woolworths had this to say:
In a statement to 7.30, ALH said the customers with a Monty’s card “can access and use pre-commitment functionality with or without participating in the venue loyalty system”.
“In this way, customers can access pre-commitment functionality discreetly and without any negative stigma.
“ALH are proud to operate family friendly hotels. We restrict gaming room access to adults and ensure gaming rooms are screened or separated from other areas of the hotel.
“The pre-commitment functionality assists our customers to gamble responsibly by nominating spend and, or time limits on electronic gaming machines.
“Pre-commitment settings can be set at the hotel or via the internet. Voluntary pre-commitment and responsible gambling dynamic messaging will also appear on screen.”
Ms Garrett said her Government had introduced strict ministerial guidelines for new venues about separation of pokie floors and playgrounds and were auditing existing venues.
She agreed that some of the descriptions of the Woolworths pubs breached those guidelines.
Here at OnlinePokies Australia we think that the description of Woolworths in general has breached the guidelines of honesty and ethics – and as such it is with great pleasure that I introduce a name more synonymous with the actions and deeds of Woolworths Limited…. Oh and for the record, no I did not make this – but the fact I searched for Woolies Pokie People and got thousands of awesome banners and title images to use within moments speaks volumes for how their reputation precedes them.