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Casinos account for 18% of Australia’s $19 billion gambling industry.
What goes on inside them has been closed to public scrutiny and independent research.
REGULATORY FAILURE? The Case of Crown Casino, the new book by Deakin University's Associate Professor Linda Hancock, is the first systematic independent Australian research on casinos; how they are run and how they are regulated.
"Casinos have gone ‘under the radar’ because of the focus on gambling in clubs and pubs; and because of the politics of regulation and the close relationships between the gambling industry and state governments dependent on gambling tax revenue, about 10% nationally," said Associate Professor Hancock.
The book has drawn praise from a number of national figures in Australia, including Senator Nick Xenophon, the Reverend Tim Costello and John Lepper, a Research Fellow from Lancaster University.
“Linda Hancock’s powerful work not only reveals the first-hand experiences of Crown Casino employees, it exposes the inadequacies of a regulatory system that seems designed to fail,” Senator Xenophon said.
“ This book highlights the need for the Commonwealth to take over gambling regulation before even more lives a ruined by this dangerous product.”
Reverend Costello, the CEO of World Vision Australian, said the book was an inside story of Crown Casino.
“Not the intrigues in the boardroom, but the personal accounts from the staff walking the carpeted floor. Crown Casino was established under a so-called 'best practice' self-regulatory model”, he said.
“But Linda Hancock's unique examination finds Crown's compliance falls short. More disturbing are her conclusions about the 'light-touch' of the state and the breakdown of enforcement of responsible gambling.
“ Crown's influence has only grown. And the State Government has been drawn into a deep dependence on dividends: dividends that come from the pockets of - in many cases - problem gamblers.”
According to John Lepper, the book throws a new light on casino regulation.
“It shows that the effectiveness of light-touch regulation depends on how well casino staff are trained and how actively they are encouraged to help gamblers with problems,” he said.
“It has international application and should be read by all regulators and policy-makers.”
The triangulation method is used in the book to compare
Regulatory failure is illustrated by the rupture between the four sub-systems, in the regulatory system in terms of “responsible gambling” (RG): government (policy and legislation), regulation, licensed gambling operator codes of conduct and casino floor worker enforcements.
According to Associate Professor Hancock,’s analysis, the primary purpose of gambling legislation in Victoria shifted in 2000 from tourism, economic development and employment to “responsible gambling”.
"Codes of Conduct on Responsible Gambling are the principal means of implementing “harm minimisation” and responsible gambling," she said.
"There are over 30 different codes across the gambling industry in Australia.
"The question is: How well are codes implemented at the venue level? Are consumers being protected from preventable harms caused by gambling products in land-based gambling environments?"
The case study on Australia’s largest casino, Crown Casino takes an in-depth analysis of how regulation and enforcement of responsible gambling work in practice in liquor-licensed casino environment.
The book gives a detailed report of interviews with 225 Crown Casino employees covering responsible gambling, responsible service of alcohol (RSA), safety and staff training.
Interviews with 225 current Crown Casino staff who are union members have revealed:
Operator practices demonstrate ineffective implementation of codes of conduct and staff turning a blind eye to problem gambling.
Staff reports point to a 24 hour venue with inadequate standards of enforcement, bar revenue targets and exhortations to ‘keep people gambling’ and spending. The reported regularity of patrons being served alcohol to the point of intoxication (necessitating exit from the premises) beg the question of RSA.
“All of this raises a lot of questions and issues which the book seeks to address in a clear and responsible way,” Associate Professor Hancock said.
HOW ADEQUATE IS GOVERNMENT REGULATION?
REGULATORY FAILURE? The Case of Crown Casino is published by Australian Scholarly Publishing, North Melbourne, $44.00 and is available at www.scholarly.info