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Australian State Appoints Anti-Gambling Advocate 2006-01-03
The government of Victoria, Australia has announced its intent to appoint an independent advocate who will focus on problem gambling.
The advocate, who will be announced by the government today, will lobby government officials to take action against problem gambling. The advocate will work with many existing anti- gambling groups. This position is designed to serve as a counter- weight to the lobbyists hired by Australian poker groups, as well as to government interests. The government of Victoria collects more than $800 in annual casino taxes.
This gesture was lauded by many anti- gambling advocates. Mike Hill, who heads the Community Action on Pokie Problems group, supported the government’s move. He applauded the government for “recognizing community concerns around gambling and making sure the community is a better-resourced player in those debates.”
On the other hand, some gaming advocates accused the government of a cheap trick. The government is merely trying to throw a bone, so to speak, to public opinion in the face of the coming elections, they say.
Gabriela Byrne, who is a former poker machine addict, believed that the government is not truly committed to fighting gambling addiction. "I don't think they are serious at all. There are so many measures that we have proposed over the years that would have had a real impact and none of them have been considered.”
(By Keren)