The NSW Government is facing calls to invest some of the revenue from a record $100 million fine imposed on casino giant Star Entertainment Group into independent gambling harm reduction initiatives.
Prominent doctors, religious groups, gambling advocates and the NSW Greens are calling on the state government to allocate at least 25 per cent of the $100 million fine to an independent gambling harm reduction fund.
Casino group a fine was imposed after a four-month independent investigation led by Adam Bell SC, it was found to have deep-rooted cultural problems and failed to stop criminal activity, including money laundering. The $100 million fine is the maximum possible penalty under the laws introduced by the New South Wales government in August, and exceeds the $80 million fine imposed on Crown Resorts by gaming authorities of Victoria earlier this year.
Dr John Crozier of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons said New South Wales should seize the opportunity to take action against gambling harm. “There have been investigations not only of the state’s two casino giants, but also of the poker machines. Now is the time to invest in independent resources and investigate the harms of gambling,” Crozier said.
The New South Wales Government established the Responsible Gambling Authority to coordinate initiatives to investigate gambling harm in 2018. The government has committed $33 million to initiatives to prevent and reduce gambling harm in 2022 and 2023, including initiatives such as Gamble Aware week, which launched on Monday.
A spokesman for the Independent Casino Commission of New South Wales told The Star the repayment schedule for the fine was still being worked out, but it would eventually go into the state’s consolidated revenue fund. Games Minister Kevin Anderson and the Department of Customer Services, which oversees Revenue NSW, did not respond to a request for comment.
“According to the legislation, the fine is paid to the minister as a debt owed to the Crown and must be deposited into the NSW Government’s consolidated fund,” a spokesman for the regulator said.
Alliance for Gambling Reform chief Carol Bennett said the state government’s failure to mitigate the negative impact of The Star in Sydney proved the need for a truly independent body, pointing to a similar case in 2001 when the Alcohol Research and Education Foundation was set up after an excess tax on alcohol to the tune of $25 million charged to brewers.
“There has been a spectacular regulatory failure when it comes to The Star,” Bennett said, “Ignoring the harms of gambling is out of step with society.”