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Australia – Victorian reopening task force slammed for ‘self-serving’ advice

By - 5 May 2020

Members of a Victorian task force including big names from the gaming industry have insisted they are not pressuring the Australian government to lift the COVID-19-enforced closures quickly, but are being supportive of government health measures to avoid outbreaks and further shutdowns.

The task force, which includes Crown Resorts, Tabcorp, the Australian Hotels Association, Community Clubs Victoria and the RSL, has been slammed for giving ‘self-serving advice’ to the government.

Marlene Kairouz, State Minister for Consumer Affairs, Gaming and Liquor Regulation, reportedly held talks with the group on April 30, with suggestions that July would be the earliest reopening date. She said the government would ‘follow the advice of the Chief Health Officer to determine when it is appropriate and safe for licensed venues and casinos to reopen.’

Tony Mohr, Executive Director of the Alliance for Gambling Reform, said he was ‘alarmed that a group of gambling industry heavies’ had met government officials to advise on the effects of the lock down and the planned route to reopening.

Mr Mohr said: “These industries are known for being very dogmatic in their pursuit of profits from gambling. We are really concerned their advice is self-serving and not in the interests of public health efforts we are fighting right now. The absolute best way to prevent gambling harm in Australia is to keep the poker machines switched off.”

A Crown spokesperson said: “While the number of active COVID-19 cases continues to decline, Australians have made massive sacrifices, and Australian companies, including Crown, would not want all the gains to be squandered after all the pain our community has endured. That’s why, while Crown’s resorts are closed, we are using this valuable time to develop comprehensive policies to make sure our venues are as safe as possible for our guests and employees once the government permits us to reopen.”

A Tabcorp spokesperson added: “Tabcorp is looking forward to continuing to work with all governments on supporting pubs and clubs to reopen when it is appropriate and safe to do so.”

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