Health Head Turned Crown Executive Says Gambling in Australia Not So Bad
One of the newest directors of Crown Resorts has already made her mark on the board. She’s in favor of minimizing the harm associated with gambling.
Jane Halton was previously head of the federal Department of Health and Ageing. She is currently the independent chair of the Council on the Ageing Australia. Halton recently told shareholders at the Crown’s AGM that she would use her public health expertise while at Crown. However, Halton shared that she would never sat on a board for a tobacco company.
Stephen Mayne, the spokesperson for the Alliance for Gambling Reform and Crown shareholder, dug further into Halton’s statement. Mayne asked Halton how she could sit on the board for one of the largest gambling enterprises in Australia. After all, both smoking and gambling are serious addictions that can adversely affect a person’s health.
Addictions and Public Health
Halton responded by saying, “there is an absolute distinction between tobacco, of which there is no safe level of consumption, and something which for many Australians is recreation.” Ms. Halton also stated that she has a “huge commitment” to all kinds of public health initiatives. Halton shares that “harm minimization is a basic tenet of the public health approach.” She reiterated that she had never been part of a board of directors for a tobacco company, since any level of tobacco is harmful. The Crown Royal director does want to make it clear that she cares about the health of Australian citizens. However, it’s clear that she doesn’t view gambling as an urgent public health issue.
Halton elaborates “I was at the forefront of a series of things in the Australian public health context, particularly plain packaging, which my department administered. We proposed it and we were delighted to have it taken up.” When it comes to gambling compared to other forms of addiction, Ms. Halton says “I do think we should make a distinction. Much like there are guidelines around what is a safe level of alcohol consumption.”
Halton And the Crown Board of Directors
Ms. Halton became a member of the Crown board in November 2017. She stated that is “not unreasonable” for individuals who enjoyed gambling to visit Crown and use the facilities safely and responsibly. She asserts that she can contribute an approach she refers to as “harm minimization” to the Crown environment.
The Crown board of director’s member assured the press that she had visited the Crown and talked to the staff. During her visit, she asked about how the machines worked and inquired about possible issues gamblers may face. Halton also requested information on responsible gambling programs.
“I’ve been and talked to the officers who actually undertake that work,” Halton assured. “It’s something that I take, and will continue to take very seriously.”
In addition to serving on the Crown board, Halton is also a board member for Clayton Utz lawyers, ANZ Bank and the Australian Policy Institute.
Gambling in Australia
Statistics revealed that gambling revenues went down from $23.8 billion in 2015-2016 to $23.7 billion in 2016-2017. Gambling profits in Australian casinos decreased from $5.2 billion to $4.8 billion as well. However, sports and race betting has increased.
Territory and state governments depend on the revenue that comes from gambling tax. This explains why Australian government officials are backpedaling when it comes to deeming gambling a health threat, according to writer Mike Steketee. In 2015, the Baird government in NSW even debuted legal changes that would make it easier for citizens to play machine poker. This came shortly after similar laws were approved by governments in Queensland, Canberra and the Northern Territory. This could make “sobriety” more challenging for the 115,000 low-income Australian citizens who are compulsive gamblers.
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Grayson met Thomas Winston at university and has stayed in touch ever since. Now living and working in America as a logistics specialist, Grayson has long shared Thomas’ love of real money online casino games but prefers roulette and craps to blackjack. She signed on readily as a contributor when Thomas told her he was planning to launch the Top Casino Picks site to share her experience, tips and tricks, when it comes to real money online casinos.
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