Woolworths profits from pokies

Woolworths is becoming one of the world’s largest pokies operators

Australia’s fresh food people are on their way to becoming one of the world’s largest pokies operators. Woolworths runs 11,700 pokies machines across Australia, which is more than the ‘big six’ casinos in Las Vegas combined.

Woolworths running pokies will come as no surprise to many. What has changed over recent months is how much Woolworths is earning from its gaming arm – and the increase has been significant. One industry estimate puts Woolworths on track to earn more than $200 million per year from gambling, which puts it on par with Australia’s fourth-largest gaming operator.

This boost in earnings was kicked off by a change in Victoria’s pokies licence system in August this year, which broke up the monopoly of gambling giants Tabcorp and Tatts. The largest beneficiary of that change is Woolworths.

Woolworths has committed to spending more than $164.3 million on poker machine entitlements, and a further $26.2 million on new machines.

Activist group GetUp! secured the signatures of 210 Woolworths shareholders for a proposal to install a $1 bet limit across all gaming facilitated by Woolworths in an attempt to reduce problem gambling. The proposal was rejected.
 

Opinion – Profiting from the misery of others

Woolworths has long been infamous for its pokies machines. But even I was surprised to discover how far it has spread and how much my local supermarket is profiting from the misery of others. Clearly Woolworths has found its venture into the world of gaming a success. The point of a business is to make a profit and I don’t begrudge the supermarket chain its income.

What infuriates me is its lack of regard for the communities and the people from whom they profit . I know it’s an unpopular theory, but I would like to propose that it is possible to run a big (and profitable) business AND have a social conscience. Due to a law change (also known as sheer dumb luck) Woolworths has come into a lot of unexpected money.

Problem gambling in Australia is a serious issue. A 2010 Productivity Commission report suggested the $1 bet limit as a good way to help reduce problem gambling, which is what the GetUp! campaign was based on.  But Woolworths rejected the proposal and instead of putting some of its extraordinary new profit into researching ways to reduce problem gambling, or helping communities or families suffering from problem gambling, it simply pledged to spend the money on making more money.

Next time I go grocery shopping it won’t be at Woolworths – I’m going to the locally run supermarket that’s just a little further down the road, to support my local community and to avoid funding another pokies machine.

Do you think Woolworths should be considering ways to reduce problem gambling? Has the information about the Woolworths pokies machines affected whether or not you shop there?





    COMMENTS

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    Dotty
    10th Dec 2012
    12:12pm
    It certainly proves that a lot of people that shop at Safeway and Woolies will have second thoughts about shopping there !
    I for one was shopping at Safeways But after reading this I will be shopping at a smaller one that doesn,t have thoughts of Grandeur on their minds as well as profits instead of trying to improve things !!
    The $1 maximum bet sounds like a great idea and something that cant go over with !
    Dotty
    smithjj
    10th Dec 2012
    12:17pm
    Woolworths is a business, it is not a branch of Social Services. Your attitude is typical of the Nanny Sate. People have to take responsibility for themselves.
    Pass the Ductape
    10th Dec 2012
    1:10pm
    Well said.......Just like a good Woolworths shareholder!
    jfs43
    10th Dec 2012
    1:24pm
    I'm not a "shareholder" but I'm also sick of people dodging their own responsibilities. Its about time that we start getting away from "everyone else is at fault except me" syndrome. Even if you took away the pokies the "problem" gamblers would still bet on some other eg horses.dogs,2 flys on the proverbial wall.. Well said smithjj
    Pass the Ductape
    10th Dec 2012
    4:27pm
    In the army in my day, it was mandatory to keep your locker fully locked at all times.

    This - it was said - was to deter thieves from committing a crime. If the locker was found not locked, it was also mandatory for the locker owner to be charged for his oversight.

    This was because, placing temptation in the way of a thief - was also a crime!
    AmandaR
    10th Dec 2012
    7:08pm
    Interesting point Ductape. I guess it is no different to insurance companies offering reductions in premiums if you have deadlocks, security screens etc. I guess what they are saying is that if you don't exercise a duty of care you will be penalised by higher premiums. If that is the case, and we are coerced into putting systems in place to ensure we minimise risk, why should companies who target those with psychological weaknesses be any less accountable for the consequences of their actions? How is that fair?
    Pass the Ductape
    11th Dec 2012
    10:51am
    Well hopefully this was my point AmandaR ....It isn't fair!
    Woolworths have been allowed to exploit the weakest link in every chain and they do a very good job of it; scoping the cream off the top of everything they touch - and then some - Dick Smith being an exception!
    Whilst they may be a force to be reckoned with, they still need to be held accountable for at least some of the damage they leave in their wake. Oh they volunteer their services to any number of charities, but it's a calculated exercise; bound to touch a few heartstrings as it promotes the view that they're really one of the good guys - but our farmers and several local manufacturers will tell you a different story!
    Despite the fact that we are technically our own masters, our system as a whole allows for easy exploitation of the masses by Woolworths and the average citizen has little redress when it comes to making a difference to the status quo.
    Short of every person boycotting Woolworths all at the same time - and continuing to boycott them - Woolworths will continue down their merry path of pushing the lawful boundaries until they own a stake in almost everything in Australia that makes a profit.
    I think most people would go into a state of shock if they knew exactly just how much the tentacles of Woolworths have been allowed to entwine us already.
    The one consolation is that Woolworths is Australian owned.....so far!
    The Lampster
    10th Dec 2012
    12:32pm
    One of the sad things occurring today is the rush to blame some else for your own dilemma. To play the pokies you have to be an adult. With that comes great privileges but also responsibilities. To many want one without acknowledging the other is the problem. I agree with smithjj it is a business and all businesses do not possess a conscious but rather the bottom line.
    Sadly we are always going to have those people who fail. Most times it is there own doing. Give them a hand up and if they fall over again, kick them in the arse till their nose bleeds. They will eventually get the hint.
    Frodo
    10th Dec 2012
    12:43pm
    Wake up Dotty. No one makes people gamble. They do it because they enjoy it and where they at least come in contact with other people. Perhaps the worse thing is that no one is bothering to find out why they gamble. Could be no one else cares. If it wasn't Woolworth's it would and is someone else.
    Anne
    10th Dec 2012
    1:18pm
    Gaming is addictive and affects neuro-pathways which are difficult to alter without support. Many addicts are also battling depression, anxiety and other mental health issues. It is not just as simple as just stopping or using will power. We have limits on alcohol (responsible serving of alcohol), why not on pokies?
    Taskid
    10th Dec 2012
    2:47pm
    That is spot on Anne. It is not as simple as "people enjoy doing it." Lives are wrecked.
    Pass the Ductape
    10th Dec 2012
    1:33pm
    It's a simple equation...... Woolworths + shareholders = dollars.
    Woolworths, like all businesses, care little for anyone or anything other than the bottom line. It's the way things work in a capitalistic system. However, on a personal note, I believe they should stick to groceries - but that's just me.
    But they’re unlikely to take much notice of me and whilst I don't shop at Woolworths, my absence will have a negligible effect on their bottom line. But at least I know that my brother-in-law (who is an avid Woolworth supporter and shareholder) will never gets his hands on any of my money, unless he does it without my knowledge!
    Oh no! I’ve just come from Dan Murphy’s...... Dammit - he’s done me over again!
    Reppie
    10th Dec 2012
    1:43pm
    I go to the local club most weekends - for raffles and company. I CHOOSE not to gamble, but, I see often people putting large amounts of money through the pokies - THEIR choice. Nobody is there making them.

    It doesnt matter a hoot in hell whether Woolies or anyone else own the pokies, we have in this country FREE CHOICE - for which I am thankful

    Where I draw the line is, when someone has just put their entire pension through one, and then come and ask me for bus fare home!! I will not now, nor have I ever supported addicts of any kind by donating to their stupidity.

    What does annoy me though, is when I see the same person at the local charities on Monday getting food vouchers, as they have no money. They of course, never tell these people what happened to their pensions.
    Nan Norma
    10th Dec 2012
    2:10pm
    Reppie, your story tells it all. Some people do become addicted to the pokies for various reasons, often loneliness. Woolies is taking advantage of that weakness and exploiting people. Thank Goodness the Government stepped it to persuade people to give up their cigarettes, another addiction.
    wscifers
    10th Dec 2012
    1:59pm
    Looks like some people are in favour of living in a Nanny State. I can't help but wonder if they are unable to think and act for themselves. Or do they need someone else to do their thinking for them and guide their lives along politically correct principles. Perhaps if all the hospitals had poker machines in their waiting rooms and Emergency Departments, Dottie would approve of the pokies.
    Reppie
    10th Dec 2012
    2:46pm
    Nan, some people have addictive personalities. They fail to see it, and can't say no to just another go at the pokies, or just anther drink, or ciggie, or ........

    Recognising that in ones self is the hard part, but also the only way they can actually be helped.

    Unfortunately, there are few who actually come through giving up a serious addiction, and it takes huge will power and family and friends support to actually succeed, and of course, many attempts to so do before this point.

    One person I knew was a heavy drinker, finally the hospital refused to take him in when he had another fit from the drink. He was told to go out and die in the gutter.

    It took this, to finally see him get the message. Now all we ever see in his hand is a Pepsi Max . He has earned our respect, and our love all over again, and is an amazing example to his two growing children.
    Sylvia
    10th Dec 2012
    3:21pm
    I agree with Reppie, I get sick of people always blaming some one else for everything, we have choice and should know it is our responsibility to reason for ourselves,we do not need wet nursing all our lives, at the end of the day only we can be in charge of our self, wake up to yourselves and think for yourself, only you can do it.
    My parents made us think like this, I am so glad they did, and also made us face up to the consequences.
    slapsy
    10th Dec 2012
    4:55pm
    People addicted to poker machines are easy to find.They are the ones who mostly sit at the same machine for hours on end.They might also be playing the machines either side of them.They can do this because of the note acceptors on the machines.Take the acceptors off the machines and you will slow them up.Bar workers do the same course for gambling as they do for alcohol,with the same responsibilities.If the same person continually goes for large amounts of coins they can be asked to leave,if they are responsible premises.At the moment people just bring in their purses/wallets full of $50 notes and don't have to move again.They just sit there all day looking as though they have just arrived.
    Pass the Ductape
    10th Dec 2012
    5:22pm
    Yes - I think you could be on the money here slapsy!
    AmandaR
    10th Dec 2012
    5:13pm
    I hate gambling with a passion - many years ago my ex-sister-in-law attempted suicide after losing a a huge amount of money on the poker machines. The business was doing well and she thought she could recoup her loses - she couldn't. My (then) 10 year old niece came home from school and found her unconscious after she took a bottle of sleeping pills.

    1. Do you think Woolworths should be considering ways to reduce problem gambling?
    Yes, Woolworths should not only consider ways to address problem gambling but actually address the issue head-on. Sadly gambling is an addiction for some people in our community and we pay the price for that addiction, either directly or indirectly. It is too simply to say that we are becoming a Nanny State and people should be more responsible for their own actions. This ignores the fact that addiction impacts on not only the addict, but the family and the broader community. For example, a gambling addict spends all the household money on the poker machines, the rent is unable to be paid, groceries are unable to be purchased, electricity/gas bills are unable to be paid on time. What does the family of the addict do when they find out yet again there is not enough money to pay the bills and buy food? Through no fault of their own, they are forced to seek support from the broader community - whether that support comes from extended family, friends or charities such as the Salvation Army, St Vinnies etc. Addiction is also a drain on our limited social services. The way I see it, we all pay...

    Has the information about the Woolworths pokies machines affected whether or not you shop there?
    I prefer to take a proactive approach and I am prepared to write to Woolworths and ask for more information. I am happy to express my concerns and ask them about their duty of care to gambling addicts. If I am not happy with the response - I am prepared to shop elsewhere.
    Taskid
    10th Dec 2012
    6:28pm
    AmandaR I agree with you, I have seen much pain caused by pokie addiction. The whole design of the things is to get people hooked. I shop at Woolworths very seldom these days.
    Reppie
    10th Dec 2012
    5:30pm
    Amanda, while I understand your loathing of gambling, I still think it is up to the individual to change, if they choose to.

    I rarely shop at Woolies anyway, but if I did, this would not change that, as I cannot justify blaming the store for the weakness of individuals. Time to put blame where it belongs - with the sadly addicted individuals.

    If I am correct, it is something as little as 0.47 percent of pokie players who actually have a problem. This is a minute number, in comparison to smokers, drug users, occassional pokie players and alcoholics.

    Maybe take in all weakness, not just try to justify persecuting one store for daring to make LEGAL living? Who knows?
    AmandaR
    10th Dec 2012
    6:53pm
    Hi Reppie.
    This site http://www.problemgambling.gov.au/ explains the situation very well. The facts presented are quite alarming.

    I agree, it is up to the individual to change their behaviour or at the every least, make informed decisions on how they spend their money. But... addicts don't think they have a problem, see no need to change and don't make informed decisions.

    Companies such as Woolworths have a duty of care to the communities in which they operate. In an ideal world, Woolworths, casino's and clubs would support the implementaton of a pre-commitment system. Instead they rail against any proposed legislation to limit the amount a person can gamble and disguise their concern by saying they will limit to $1 machines.
    Abby
    11th Dec 2012
    3:36pm
    I am sure if the Government made it illegal Woolworths would not have anything to do with gambling

    Woolworths does not run the country - governments are supposed to.
    AmandaR
    11th Dec 2012
    5:12pm
    The Government is trying to do something. http://www.andrewwilkie.org/content/index.php/aw/press_releases_extended/a_statement_regarding_poker_machine_reform1
    Abby
    11th Dec 2012
    6:13pm
    Yes Andrew Wilke would do somethig if he was PM, sadly he is not

    So we only get the flap of the lips
    AmandaR
    11th Dec 2012
    6:45pm
    Reread it Abby. The amended bill has been passed - certainly it is less than Wilkie wanted (the Coalition refused to support the original bill to implement a pre-commitment system), but it is somewhat more than flapping lips. I don't think gambling should be outlawed, but I do think that we need leglisation to minimise risk.
    motaleon
    10th Dec 2012
    6:39pm
    A country butcher informed me that Coles and Woolworths have a sweetheart agreement at cattle sales not to bid against each other but to take turns at securing the winning bid. That way they buy cheaper and screw the farmer.
    It is legend how they screw the dairy farmer to sell milk at $1 a2 litre bottle.
    The vegetable farmers have to take dictated prices.
    Stand and Deliver!
    DAWNIE
    10th Dec 2012
    7:16pm
    As a child I can remember visiting my grandparents in Fitroy and hearing the SP Bookies in the back lanes. Gambling has always existed and so have people who have no control over their addiction. What about the obese people who walk around eating cakes or pies, those who drink too much alcohol, those who still choose to smoke cigarettes, those who under exercise others who drive recklessly and too fast. Human faults are part of our society and sadly there are a great many people prone to these. Do we want to live in a society that controls every excess that any of us commit? Education can only go so far but it may well be the only true answer over time, businesses that cater to these weaknesses only do so because the demand is there. A great deal of thought needs to go into making our society healthier and able to control its excesses, not having rules and laws that take away our freedom of choice.
    Dawnie
    Abby
    10th Dec 2012
    7:32pm
    I think Woolworths is the best

    They sent me an early $20 Xmas present

    Woohoo!!!
    Sylvia
    10th Dec 2012
    9:33pm
    Well said Dawnie, it is about time we started educating our youngsters to think for themselves and show them the consequences if they dont listen, by all means put a limit on the stakes when gambling, that isn't going to fix anything though if they are really addicted is it?
    Ozetwo
    10th Dec 2012
    10:06pm
    Large corporations have no moral scruples or conscience..... end of story. Look at 2Day FM , anything for a buck. Look at Shell Oil who are prepared to commit criminal acts for the company good. Nestle are prepared to sell dodgy products in third world countries. Philip Morris corp push cigarettes to minors in Indonesia. James Hardy Industries were aware of the dangers of asbestos years before it became a problem. Woolworths will deal in human misery as long as it turns a profit. As 2Day FM have found to their cost the average Joe and Josephine now have a way to strike back and make their disgust at these actions known. Boycott the products, stores and corporations and tell your friends.
    Reppie
    11th Dec 2012
    7:36am
    PLEASE ozetwo, do you really believe a lady with the intelligence to be a nursing sister, would take her own life over passing on a phone call to another nurse to handle? I will almost guarantee we will find out over the next few months, there was a lot more going on in that poor lady's life and mind. Meantime, I just wish they would leave these two Ozzies alone - after all, it is an Oz thing to prank anyone and everyone - without prejudice !!

    LOL Abby, I would be happy too with a bonus like that. Enjoy.
    Ozetwo
    11th Dec 2012
    9:06am
    Yes I do Reppie.The first articles from the Daily Mail (who later jumped off that bandwagon) attacked the "appalling" lack of security and were very critical of the lack of professionalism of the staff. I am sure that the nurse was dragged over the coals by her supervisors for putting the call through. The spotlight of the whole world upon you can adversely effect anyone. It certainly would not have helped if that person had other dramas in her life.I have no problem with the two Aussies involved, it is the management at 2Day FM that exercised bad judgement in allowing this to air and not taking responsibility for damage caused. Something with which that they have a bit of a track record in the past. To get back on topic large corporations have to be forced to make moral judgements and not just look at the quick buck.
    Reppie
    11th Dec 2012
    9:18am
    I heard the prank call. There was no personal information given out, it was simply a light hearted prank, fake corgi's and all. We already knew Kate was on a drip for dehydration etc. etc. (This was released early in the day) The only reason the world is watching now, is because as always the damn media have blown things way out of proportion, and distorted, as always, at the expense of two young Australians.

    Again, why the hell would any thinking human being, kill themself over answering a phone and passing the call on to someone else??? There is no reason. Again, there is a lot more to this than just the phone call, but the media, and maybe even the family are cashing in on the drama of it all.

    Nothing can bring Jacintha back, now just leave out two young Ozzies alone. An eye for an eye can never be appropriate in my books, unless there is a deliberate act causing a catastrophic event, i.e. terrorism. Meanwhile our two young ones have their lives to get on with, and right now are going through hell also. I believe unnecessarily.

    It's bad enough with the poms screaming hate at the two dj's, but now even fellow Australians doing it!!! Wake up and smell the roses.
    Ozetwo
    11th Dec 2012
    9:24am
    Please read posts before replying Reppie.
    Reppie
    11th Dec 2012
    9:27am
    I did mate, and I still think as above. It was a mere prank, not a major newsworthy event effecting the security of the world, or anyone in it.

    11th Dec 2012
    9:29am
    Seggie. After reading that Woolworths are making so much money from gambling, is this why Woolies are building everywhere. I notice Coles aren't. Anyone else noticed this?
    Reppie
    11th Dec 2012
    9:31am
    Up here seggie, Coles have just totally revamped their store, Kmart, and added a huge grog shop to their huge corner of the shopping complex. Meanwhile the old Woolies, which burnt down a year ago, is about to be rebuilt, and the other one in the main complex just stays the same, outdated.
    Boof
    11th Dec 2012
    12:42pm
    Good start to the comments. "Ditty" Dotty" starts off, leading the way for all the bleeding hearts. Governments have their greedy little fingers in too much of recreational activities. Whether it is Woolies or the Packers, who are running the Gambling, who cares. No one forces the imbociles and morons to play "Pokies". or Gamble on anything. All the Dooo-Gooders achieve is that they make it harder for people to enjoy the relaxation time. When the drongoes go broke they want to BLAME someone else for their STUPIDITY. I've been to Les Vegus and it is great. We make the mistake of just building one stand alone Casino. If the developers, really want something that resembles over there, they need to do build 5 or 6 Casino's in the one area, like Les Vegus. COMPETITION IS THE WAY TO GO. I could get a very large Prawn (Shrimp) and Avocado Cocktail in L.V. for $1.00. Of course you had to go into the casino for it, but no one forced us to gamble, to get it. It was delicious, by the way.
    AmandaR
    11th Dec 2012
    1:31pm
    And why on earth would Australia want to replicate somewhere like Las Vegas? Glad you had a great time there, not everyone has the same outcome.
    Boof
    11th Dec 2012
    12:43pm
    Las Vegus, I know.
    Abby
    11th Dec 2012
    3:32pm
    Woolworths is a big company and do does not put all its eggs in one basket

    Although some people do not like it, Gambling is legal and a lot of people do

    So I do not see why people are objecting in what Woolworths invests in.
    AmandaR
    11th Dec 2012
    5:25pm
    Gambling may be legal but that does not mean it is not harmful. By applying your rationale to say smoking, it is ok because it is legal. My question to you Abby, is smoking ok? What is more harmful to a child? A parent who smokes, or a parent who gambles and is unable to provide a roof over their head and food on the table?

    It is our right, as a democratic country, to question those things that we see as injust and in relation to gambling, those who support the practice by providing the gambling mechanism (in this case poker machines) warrant scrutiny. If we passively accept accept gambling as ok the law will never change and money will continue to be made off the weak and vulnerable and we will all continue to, either directly or indirectly, bare the cost of irresponsible, problem gambling.
    Abby
    11th Dec 2012
    6:10pm
    Whilst it is law, if Woolworths does not invest in gambling some other company will

    Woolworths also sells cigarets - once again legal and it is up to the government of the day to do something about it - you should be out there talking to your politicians
    AmandaR
    11th Dec 2012
    6:42pm
    I am.
    Abby
    11th Dec 2012
    8:10pm
    Good for you Amanda and goo luck
    Abby
    11th Dec 2012
    8:11pm
    Good for you Amanda and goo luck
    Abby
    11th Dec 2012
    8:11pm
    Good for you Amanda and goo luck
    jan5
    11th Dec 2012
    3:55pm
    In the beginning God gave us a choice i.e the knowledge of good or evil,so that we could make our own decisions.He wanted us to trust Him then and he still does now.Jesus is the way, read the Gospels you will find all the answers there.
    Abby
    11th Dec 2012
    4:31pm
    There is a heap of religious blogs here

    https://www.google.com.au/search?q=religious+blogs&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8&aq=t&rls=org.mozilla:en-GB:official&client=firefox-a
    Taskid
    11th Dec 2012
    5:13pm
    Jan5 Well said. Some sanity at last. :0)
    Taskid
    11th Dec 2012
    5:30pm
    Oh dear Abby has gone all religious on us, she is pushing those strange symbols, words and numbers all over YLC - must be some New Age code thing she is into. :0)
    Abby
    11th Dec 2012
    5:43pm
    Taskid
    So you opened another account for yourself - how wonderful for you you will be able to talk back to yourself and hopefully be in full agreement :)
    tc58
    15th Dec 2012
    11:51pm
    The comment relating to problem gamblers "it is something as little as 0.47 percent of pokie players who actually have a problem. This is a minute number, in comparison to smokers, drug users, occasional pokie players and alcoholics" downplays and ignores the reality of the impact of any addiction on family and community. My father was a poker machine addict when I was a child and he would put his entire week's wages through the pokies in one night and then come home to my mother to try to get more money to gamble. The effect on our family's financial situation was devastating. This ripple effect of problem gamblers can be seen recently with cases of individuals being jailed for fraudulent activities against their employers in order to gain money to feed their poker machine addictions. The point is that everyone is responsible for their decisions and behaviour whether it be the poker machine addict or the profit making company manufacturing, leasing and reaping the inevitable massive profits from poker machines. This also applies to any company or organisation making a product or providing a service where it will have a negative impact at an individual, family or community level.


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