Campaign Against Gambling Machines In Australian Pubs

by Gopalan on  April 17, 2009 at 3:57 PM Lifestyle News   - G J E 4
 Campaign Against Gambling Machines In Australian Pubs
A major campaign was unleashed Friday against Woolworths and Coles, two major Australian chains that operate gambling machines in their pubs.

Activists charge that Woolworths is using its marketing muscle to attract the next generation of pokie addicts by making its pubs family-friendly.

Central to the attack is the attractive children's playgrounds that are being incorporated in pubs, with one in Queensland featuring a $200,000 carousel.

Former corporate lawyer Paul Bendat, who launched the campaign in Adelaide, visited 180 Woolworths pubs around Australia documenting the playgrounds in a new book to be sent to Prime Minister Kevin Rudd.

"They have signs that say kids eat free, there are free movies, there is clown's face painting," he said.

"Here we have Woolworths saying we're a responsible organisation - well, act like one."

Mr Bendat wants laws changed which would end children being targeted by the venues.

No Pokies Senator Nick Xenophon said the corporate food giant should show a greater social responsibility. He has long campaigned against gambling machines in South Australia's state parliament and is now in the Australian Senate.

"With 11,000 poker machines, there's something rotten behind 'the fresh food people' (Woolworth's retail slogan.)

"The irony is, there are thousands of Australians who can't afford to buy fresh food because of their addiction to a Woolworths' poker machines.

"Independent research says if you expose kids to the sights and sounds of poker machines and the gambling promotions, then that is a bad sign of things to come," he said.

World Vision chief executive officer Reverend Tim Costello was also at the launch.

"This is a cynical money grab that's not consistent with what Australians expect from a loved and trusted brand.

"Addictive products that destroy families and communities, like pokies, are a distortion of this household name," he said and wanted Woolworths to sell off its machines. He also endorsed a shoppers' boycott.

In a statement Woolworths said that the majority of ALH hotels were designed to be family-friendly venues," media relations Manager, Luke Schepen said, "A local place for families to enjoy a meal together in a pleasant environment.

"However, we are very conscious of our responsibilities as a gaming operator and do not allow minors into the gaming areas."

Source: Medindia

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