‘Pokie-Leaks’ campaign calls for gambling industry secrets

Whistleblowers are being urged to reveal poker machine industry secrets. Photo: John Woudstra Greens deputy leader, Larissa Waters, Andrew Wilkie MP, Senator Nick Xenophon, and former pokie machine victim, Shonica Guy launch PokieLeaks in Sydney CBD. Photo: Peter Rae

Andrew Wilkie MP, with Senator Nick Xenophon, and former pokie machine victim, Shonica Guy launch PokieLeaks in Sydney CBD. Photo: Peter Rae

Three federal politicians are calling on whistleblowers to send them poker machine industry secrets with a promise they will be made public using parliamentary privilege.

The Pokie-Leaks campaign is being launched in Sydney on Tuesday by independent senator Nick Xenophon, Greens senator Larissa Waters and independent Denison MP Andrew Wilkie.

They will call for confidential information, such as details of how machine design targets vulnerable players and undisclosed industry interaction with political parties, to be sent directly to them for release in Parliament.

It comes as Crown Casino and Australian pokie manufacturer Aristocrat are taken to court by former pokie player Shonica Guy, a supporter of the Alliance for Gambling Reform.

Ms Guy is seeking an order that the machines she played are deceptive.

Potentially, information made public via the Pokie-Leaks campaign could be used by lawyers Maurice Blackburn in the case.

“This information needs to be out there in the court of public opinion,” Senator Xenophon said.

“If you know something that needs to be revealed, tell us, and with parliamentary privilege, we can tell everyone. For too long, this predatory industry has relied on secret and harmful features, which are designed to be addictive.”

Senator Waters said information about dishonest or illegal behaviour in the pokies industry “can help us hold them to account in Parliament” and that the identity of whistleblowers would be protected.

Mr Wilkie, who was included in a recently abandoned defamation action brought by Clubs NSW against the ABC, said the poker machine industry “is fundamentally exploitative and very careful to try and keep its methods secret”.

“Pokie-Leaks will establish a valuable mechanism for industry insiders and members of the public to tell us what they know,” he said.

The defamation action was launched after ABC’s 7.30 program broadcast claims by former federal MP Peter Garrett that someone from Clubs NSW handed him an envelope full of cash after his election in 2004. Mr Wilkie described it as a bribe.

Mr Garrett later said it was a cheque, not cash, and was given before he was elected.

Clubs NSW denied the claim and sued, but dropped the action after the court granted the ABC access to its financial records.

“It was telling that Clubs NSW dropped its legal action against the ABC on account of the court discovery process and requirement to open its books to scrutiny,” Mr Wilkie said.

“This just goes to show the steps that this particular industry player will go to in order to avoid scrutiny, and of the need for whistleblowers to speak up.”

A Clubs NSW spokesman said the campaign appears to be “a typical Nick Xenophon and friends publicity stunt”.

“Sadly, it shows yet again how little regard is held by some politicians for the serious business of governing our nation,” he said.

An Aristocrat spokeswoman declined to comment.

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