WOOLWORTHS - AUSTRALIA'S LARGEST POKIES BARON- TRYING TO PULL THE WOOL OVER THE EYES OF SA VOTERS BY FUNDING MISLEADING ANTI-SA-BEST CAMPAIGN

11 March 2018

Woolworths - with 12,000 pokie machines nationally and 990 in SA - should get out of the pokies business, and stop funding the "massive lies" of the AHA campaign against SA-BEST, its leader, Nick Xenophon, said today.

Nick was joined in Adelaide today by Rev Tim Costello, representing the Alliance for Gambling Reform, and Shonica Guy, a former pokies addict turned campaigner.

"Woolworths needs to come clean and show how much financial support it has given to the AHA and the Liberal and Labor parties during this election campaign," Nick said.

"And the tragic irony is that there are people in SA today who cannot afford to buy food and groceries from a Woolies supermarket because they've lost their money on a Woolies poker machine," he said.

Of the 12,210 gaming machines in SA, Woolworths has interests in 990 machines - with over $60 million a year in losses - and operates 32 pubs including the Ramsgate at Henley Beach and Brighton's Esplanade Hotel. 

All its hotels are taking part in the AHA's campaign, which is falsely claiming that it will cost jobs and an unsubstantiated $1.2 billion to businesses which provide hotels with goods and services.

This is despite previous analysis from the SA Centre for Economic Studies, from the University of Adelaide, which shows that for every $1 million lost on poker machines only three jobs are created, compared to six jobs created for every $1 million spent in the retail sector, and more than double again in hospitality.

Nick also said the AHA has now "sucked in" some of the state's sporting and community not-for-profit clubs with pokies, to spread its scaremongering smear campaign.

"These sporting clubs are actually insulated from any reductions in poker machines under our policy, and with a dedicated transition fund for clubs with pokies, if they are impacted by going to $1 bets," Nick said.

Nick also questioned the role SANFL President, former Liberal Premier John Olsen, has played in fuelling the campaign against him, given his known close relationships with hotel pokies operators.

"The campaign by the AHA, SANFL and Clubs SA is quite deceptive, much like their scaremongering over the smoking bans in pubs a few years ago when they claimed it would cost money and jobs - something that never eventuated," Nick said.

"They claim that regulating the rampant pokies industry will cost jobs, despite a number of studies - including their own statistics - telling us otherwise," he said.

"What are they really worried about? Their own profits are made off the back of vulnerable and addicted South Australians caught in the grip of the pokies."

You can find the Alliance for Gambling Reform media release here.

You can read SA-BEST's Gambling Reform Policy here.

From left to right: Rev Tim Costello, representing the Alliance for Gambling Reform; Shonica Guy, a former pokies addict turned campaigner; SA-BEST leader Nick Xenophon; and SA-BEST candidate for Croydon, Julia Karpathakis.

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