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Saturday, May 28, 2011

Crown Casino: Good VS Evil?; Preacher Man, by Greg Tingle - 29th May 2001



It seems of late that there's a bit of Good VS Evil and Good Cop VS Bad Cop going on at Melbourne's Crown Casino as of late. We get up close to a man of god somewhat aligned with Crown and also probe to see if Crown may be targeting oldies. Australia is once again home to some of the world's hottest gambling and casino news today, with James Packer and his Crown Casino in the centre of the action. Media Man pounds the pavement with the news you need to know...

Crown Casino Chaplain: No Such Thing As Luck; Punters Need To Take Self Responsibility...

The casino's resident chaplain aka man of Gold, has warned that luck has become a "new religion" as punters crave financial reward for little or no effort. Father James Grant says he sees growing numbers of folks gambling in the hope they will win a fortune before losing devastating sums of money. Speaking at a recent event to raise awareness around problem gambling, Father Grant advised the lack of individual responsibility was alarming. "An increasing number of patrons believe that luck is on their side," he preached. "In our society luck has become a new secular deity. "We are people who believe that it is possible to get something for nothing, that our lives are in the grip of fate … rather than our own responsibility. None of this is Crown's doing. "Rather I would argue that Crown is actually moving into a framework that is going in exactly the opposite direction." The event, held to coincide with the state government's Responsible Gambling Awareness Week, also came a day after it came to light that the casino had hired former ALP chief Karl Bitar to try to push back proposed anti-gambling laws. Father Grant, an Anglican, would not say if he supported the proposed laws. But he was sceptical of anything that "tinkered around the edges" rather than dealt with motivations - real reasons behind people's irresponsibility. Father Grant spends about 20 hours a week at the casino through his Chaplains Without Borders program, an inter-faith agency that serves companies and other organisations. He said the casino responsible gaming support centre was staffed around the clock to help people in need, while casino staff kept watch for people gambling beyond their limits. "It's very easy to bash Crown without really understanding what efforts it does go to," he said. "I don't think Crown gets any credit for what it's doing in terms of trying to encourage individuals to take more responsibility for their life." The man of God is well liked both by patrons, staff and management, and media reckons he's great for a quote to two also. Thanks father, there is a god.

Crown Casino Targeting Oldies?...

The famous casino has been accused of luring senior citizens and struggling community clubs to the casino by offering rebates, exposing weak and vulnerable punters to problem gambling, gambling researcher Professor Linda Hancock says. Professor Hancock, from Deakin University, will soon release her book Regulatory Failure: The Case of Crown Casino, in which she argues that the regulation of the casino is failing people because of "weak sanctions" on the irresponsible service of alcohol and on those failing to implement the Responsible Gambling Code of Conduct. In the controversial new book, Professor Hancock said seniors and people from non-English-speaking backgrounds were being targeted by Crown's "Red Carpet Program", which was promoted to social clubs as a special outing. Bus packages are available for groups and clubs can earn a rebate but only if they stay for at least four hours, or six for a non-gambling function. Patrons are given gambling vouchers, as well as lunch coupons, upon arrival. Visitors on tours are also signed up to loyalty programs, which exposes them to marketing for other gambling products. In her book, Professor Hancock quotes a survey of 204 participants on 6 Crown bus packages from northern suburbs social clubs, which found evidence of "at-risk" gambling behaviours with 42.9% spending more than they had planned and 23.7% saying they planned to return to the casino to win back money. Crown Casino's did not respond as we went to press.

Bitar's New Crown Casino Gig Is Wrong: Bob Brown...

Australian Greens leader Bob Brown says the appointment of a former Labor strategist to a job lobbying for the gambling industry is "worrying". Former ALP national secretary Karl Bitar has taken up a gig with Melbourne's Crown Casino. The appointment comes as the Gillard Labor government works on a new policy to limit the amount of money players can put through poker machines, to prevent problem gambling. Senator Brown said it was an example of the "spectre of undue influence" raising its head. "The appointment by Crown Casino is very worrying, it's very troubling, because he's been a major mover and shaker in politics in Australia," he told reporters in Canberra on Wednesday. "You can't tell me or anybody else that that's not going to open doors for Crown Casino that other people don't have open to them and can't go through." Senator Brown said there should at least be a cooling off period for such appointments. "It is wrong and we should certainly see much stronger regulations and rules about ex-politicians and senior political insiders being able to move to use the knowledge they've had from being on the political inside not only to their own advantage but to the advantage of sectional interests." Anti-gambling campaigner Tim Costello says Bitar's appointment by Crown is not a shock. "Crown has everything to lose from pokies reform, so it's no surprise they employed Karl Bitar," he said. Costello also attacked Crown's involvement in Victoria's Responsible Gambling Awareness Week. The casino made its contribution to the week on Wednesday at an event in which former aerobics champion Sue Stanley compared an addiction to exercise with gambling. Stanley said she needed help when she was addicted to exercise and gamblers should do likewise. The casino's chaplain Father James Grant then said Crown was doing a good job with problem gambling. No Crown officials would take questions from the media at the event. "It's a joke," Costello said. "Crown and its involvement in Responsible Gambling Awareness Week is quite frankly like putting Dracula in charge of the blood bank." Victorian Liberal premier Ted Baillieu said he could work with Mr Bitar. "To some extent I'm surprised that somebody in that position in the ALP would undertake that position but that's a matter for them," he told the press.

Punter Spent Phoney Cash On Sex And Poker At Crown Casino...

A Melbourne fella spent more than $10,000 of counterfeit Canadian currency on prostitutes and poker machines after exchanging the money for Australian dollars at Crown Casino, a court has heard. Cosimo Candido, 34, of Sunshine, was arrested this week by Australian Federal Police after he exchanged counterfeit money he claims he was minding in a shoe box for a friend who had asked him to look after it. Up to seven passports from various jurisdictions were also found in the shoe box in the name of a man who police confirmed is dead. Candido claimed he did not known the money was counterfeit, Melbourne Magistrates Court heard. He is alleged to have told police he was with a prostitute in St Kilda on April 30, got bored, then decided to take the cash to the casino to exchange it. He advised he approached a cashier with $1000 of the currency "to see if it would work" and received $885 in return. He went to another cashier and exchanged $3000 counterfeit Canadian dollars and received $2657 before he was handed $4645 by a third cashier. All transactions were captured on CCTV cameras. Crown staff later contacted police after suspecting the cash was fake. Candido was charged with uttering counterfeit money under the Crimes Currency Act 1981. The Commonwealth offence carries a maximum penalty of 12 years' jail. The court heard that Candido told police his friend who asked him to mind the items had the cash and passports because he was trying to receive the dead man's assets. The police informant, who asked not to be named because of ongoing investigations, said Candido told investigators he had spent the money he received after the exchanges on hookers, hotels and at the pokies. Magistrate Charlie Rozencwajg granted Candido bail to re-appear at the same court on July 13. Crime does not pay... not usually.

James Packer VS Or With Andrew Wilkie; Wilkie's Big Day At Packer's Crown Casino; Win - Win?...

He's the face of Australian gambling haters, but he had a wonder through James Packer's Crown Casino in Melbourne just the other day, but for good reason. What a lovely way to spend a Sunday. The 'Tasmanian Devil' (satire) independent MP had a tour of gambling house in March with James Packer. The gambling king and the political face of gambling dislike took a walk around the place before making way to a conference room with staff to discuss issues of mutual interest we hear. Packer is very interested in Wilkie's plans to slow cash flow of the poker machine industry by imposing a mandatory national system requiring punters to set a limit on their losses. Pokies have been the talk of the town for weeks. State and territory ministers won't shut up about the 'one armed bandits' and Wilkie props. Packer's Crown Limited just appointed Labor's ex national secretary Karl Bitar to boost Crown's lobbying effort against the reforms. There's was a rumour that one or two threats were made in the meeting. What constitutes a threat anyway? Crown rejects that idea. "Mr Packer did not threaten Mr Wilkie in any way, shape or form," a Crown spokesman said yesterday. "The meeting with Mr Wilkie on 20 March at Crown was both civil and constructive. Mr Packer would be disappointed if anyone is claiming anything other than that." Clubs and pubs are pro active with an full on public campaign against the Wilkie proposal; the casino king apparently signalled in the boardroom he was prepared to contribute funds and add his politically influential voice to the objections. Given his interest in the outcome, the agro around the political class and the posture of the pubs and clubs, it would be surprising if he did otherwise. Packer has also made his objections known to other parliamentary crossbenchers, calling on MP's Tony Windsor and Rob Oakeshott. Wilkie has refused to discuss the meeting. "The content of the discussion was confidential," he said, adding "unless James Packer wants to reveal it, in which case I have no objection". Fun, games and politics continue to mix it up down under, but we haven't heard the last of Packer VS Wilkie, or whatever the relationship is punters.

Friends, good punting, know your limits and bet with your head, not over it.

Punters, er readers, stay glued to Media Man reports for more "can't miss" information on Australian pokies, gaming and casino wars.

*Media Man http://www.mediamanint.com is primarily a media, publicity and internet portal development company. They cover a dozen industry sectors including gaming. Media Man also publishes Media Man News

*The writer owns shares in Crown Limited

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