Australian pokies reform continues to dominate Australian news headlines but today it's allegations by MP Andrew Wilkie of numerous death threats against his life coming from within the gambling sector we understand! The war has escalated with more hand grenades, bombs and rocket launchers being unleashed on both sides of the debate. It's war down under, with NSW being the red zone, with Canberra not offering much more relief. Will Clubs Australia $20 million dollar public relations campaign work, with will Wilkie's death threats ace in the sleeve do it for him? What other secret weapons are lurking in the war chest? Media Man and Gambling911 go into deep cover in the war zone. It's man VS machine down under with this special report...
Wilkie Claims Death Threats; Finger Pointed At Clubs; Unlucky 13th Negative Press...
The Australian government's proposed gambling reforms, described by Clubs Australia as "simply un-Australian" have seen MP Wilkie get death threats - so he says.
The reforms would wipe out 100s, if not 1000s of pubs and clubs... yeah, and pokie palaces too Clubs Australia has gone on record with.
Now other political parties have been dragged into the situation with Liberal MP Steven Ciobo says it's unfortunate that anti-pokies MP Andrew Wilkie is publishing media releases about death threats against him.
The Tasmanian "devil" (satire) independent is instead being urged to tell police about the threats of death and blackmail he says he's recently copped over his push to introduce poker machine reforms.
Ciobo, who sits on a parliamentary committee considering the mandatory pre-commitment gambling scheme, says such threats will not be tolerated.
"It's unfortunate that media releases are being put out about death threats," Ciobo told ABC Radio today, referring to Wilkie's claims. "(But) My main concern is that we have at the core a bad Labor policy that is going to be implemented ... it's going to do next to nothing to stop problem gambling."
Wilkie blames the gaming industry for the smear campaign, which includes threats to trawl through his past as a military cadet and release compromising photos of him.
Clubs Australia, which has launched a $20 million advertising blitz against Wilkie's reforms, has vehemently denied any involvement.
Clubs Australia boss Anthony Ball demanded Wilkie release any evidence he has linking the clubs industry to the alleged smear campaign.
"Clubs are being fingered for something that they just haven't done," he told ABC TV today. "We will not stoop to smear tactics, we will not issue death threats, that's offensive to me and my organisation.
"Mr Wilkie is the one who has lobbed the hand grenade not me."
Meanwhile, fellow anti-pokie campaigner Nick Xenophon says their advertising campaign is misleading and has referred it to the competition and consumer watchdog, the ACCC.
Labor has promised to introduce a mandatory pre-commitment gambling scheme by 2014 as part of an agreement with Mr Wilkie to support it in minority government.
Wilkie has threatened to withdraw his support for the Gillard Government if parliament has not passed legislation backing the scheme by May 2012.
Under the proposal gamblers will have to carry cards that allow them to set betting limits before they play the pokies.
Daily withdrawal limits of $250 would also be placed on ATMs located near gaming machines.
MP Wilkie Death Threat - Real Or BS?
An Aussie member of Parliament leading a push against problem slot machine gambling Wednesday revealed that he was getting death threats as debate intensified about imposing betting limits. Independent lawmaker Andrew Wilkie accused the powerful clubs and pubs industry of attempting to trash his reputation over his plan to force "pokies" gamblers to sign registration cards limiting how much they can lose.
Wilkie, a key member of Prime Minister Julia Gillard's fragile coalition government, made pokies reform a major condition of his support and he has threatened to abandon her if she does not act, nixing her one-seat majority. Gillard has promised to crack down with new limits on the sector by 2014. But the industry has hit back with a Aus$20 million (US$20.9 million) advertising blitz claiming freedom and privacy was at stake, and Wilkie, formerly a military intelligence analyst, said he was being targeted with intimidation tactics. "In the past two days, I've received a death threat, been threatened with the existence of compromising photos and am having my past as a cadet at Duntroon (military academy) nearly 30 years ago trawled over," said Wilkie. "The smear campaign shows that this industry, which profits enormously from human misery, will stop at absolutely nothing to prevent these historic poker machine reforms." Wilkie, best known as an Iraq war whistleblower before he entered parliament last year, said he had referred the threats to the authorities, adding that he had nothing to hide. Clubs Australia chief Anthony Ball said he was "outraged" that Wilkie was "obviously pointing the finger" at his organisation and the Australian Hotels Association. "I'm absolutely shocked if Andrew Wilkie is suggesting that me or my organisation has issued death threats, it's absurd," Ball told ABC radio. "If he's (been) issued a death threat he should go straight to the police and I'm happy to cooperate. I mean that's the way to deal with it, not to basically throw a rock at us." Some 600,000 Australians...4% percent of the adult population are estimated to play poker machines aka "one armed bandits" at least weekly, with some 95,000 classed as problem gamblers in a study by the Productivity Commission. Aussies gambling losses totalled more than Aus$19 billion in 2008-2009, according to the commission, with each player an average of about Aus$1,500 out of pocket every year. Aussies remain some of the world's most passionate punters.
Wilkie's Media Release and Clubs Australia Response...
ILKIE NOT INTIMIDATED BY POKIES SMEAR CAMPAIGN
The Independent Member for Denison, Andrew Wilkie, is refusing to be intimidated by a pokies industry smear campaign against his character.
"In the past two days, I’ve received a death threat, been threatened with the existence of compromising photos and am having my past as a Cadet at Duntroon nearly 30 years ago trawled over," Mr Wilkie said.
"Two days ago the pokies industry commenced its campaign against my reforms to reduce problem gambling, including a $20m public disinformation campaign.
"That some in the industry would stoop to a smear campaign against me is unsurprising.
"It says a lot more about the pokies industry than it does about Andrew Wilkie.
"Moreover the smear campaign shows that this industry, which profits enormously from human misery, will stop at absolutely nothing to prevent these historic poker machine reforms.
"While I do not intend to give a running commentary about each new accusation, what I will say is I was judged fit to graduate from Duntroon and went on to have a successful military career, reaching the rank of Lieutenant Colonel.
"There’s nothing new in this – I described my Duntroon experience in a book I wrote in 2004 (Axis of Deceit) and again just last month on ABC Radio’s Conversations with Richard Fidler.
"Importantly, during my military and subsequent intelligence careers I was repeatedly security cleared and character checked to the highest levels in the country.
"Further politically and commercially motivated attacks on my character will not be deserving of a reply."
CLUBS DEMAND WILKIE BACK UP SMEAR CLAIMS OR APOLOGISE TO INDUSTRY...
ClubsAustralia is shocked and offended by claims made by Andrew Wilkie of a supposed
industry generated smear campaign involving his time as a cadet at Duntroon.
This allegation is absolutely without basis and should be immediately withdrawn or passed to police for further investigation.
ClubsAustralia believes it is disgraceful for Andrew Wilkie to make this claim and point the finger at clubs and the hotel industry on the basis that they are opposed to his proposed mandatory pre-commitment technology.
Executive Director of ClubsAustralia Anthony Ball said suggestions of death threats and a smear campaign should be investigated by police.
"Andrew Wilkie needs to explain what evidence he has to base his allegations on. I would have thought such serious allegations would have been referred to the police, not communicated to the public by a bizarre media release.
"Clubs will not be distracted by this disgraceful claim. We have certainly been involved in a robust debate about his proposed poker machine reforms but that’s where it ends.
"Clubs have no interest in anything Mr Wilkie did during his military career. Our concern is solely with what he is attempting to do now to recreational gamblers and clubs and pubs.
"He has put this very serious allegation involving clubs and hotels into the public. I want it fully investigated so that our name can be cleared and Andrew Wilkie compelled to apologise for his baseless claim,” Anthony Ball said.
Loyal readers, who do you believe? Who will win in this epic man VS machine war. Pokie lovers or haters? Who is going to get the last laugh, or is it too early to tell? Will Wilkie cost the Gillard government victory? So many questions, but so few answers. Stay tuned for more explosive updates.
A Media Man spokesperson said "It's a shame things have got to this level in the anti pokies vs pro pokies debate, or war, if you will. Yes, emotions have ran wild but its a little hard to believe that death threat was made. We agree with Clubs Australia that prove needs to be presented to the police, if in fact there is any. Sometimes fact can be stranger than fiction so we're not calling anyone a liar. It just seems a stretch. It's well known by insiders that MP Wilkie and friends will do just about anything to see their goals achieved, but the general public does not support their radical calls for reform. You just have to speak to the regular man in the street to see that Aussies like a punt, and do not enjoy being told by Big Brother on what to do or believe. May the best side win, but it seems its going to be a long drawn out war at this stage".
Punters, er readers, stay glued to Media Man reports via Gambling911 for more "can't miss" information on Australian pokies and gaming wars.
*Greg Tingle is a special contributor for Gambling911
*Media Man http://www.mediamanint.com is primarily a media, publicity and internet portal development company. They cover a dozen industry sectors including gaming.
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