18 September 2015

The Australian Christian Lobby today joined calls for Woolworths to halt plans to introduce a ‘frequent gamblers’ rewards card program.

ACL Managing Director Lyle Shelton said it was morally irresponsible to reward people for accessing highly addictive poker machines.

Woolworths, which owns 96 per cent of the gambling business AHL Group, is making hundreds of millions of dollars off the backs of the poorest Australians through its ownership of six per cent of Australia’s poker machines.

“I’m sure the average Australian would be shocked to realise that the grocer who puts food on the table for some families, through their gambling profits, takes it off others.

“Woolworths owns or operates six per cent of the country's electronic gaming machines through the ALH Group, in which it is the major shareholder.”

Mr Shelton said it was disappointing the Victorian Labor government was backing the gambling loyalty card.

Woolworths latest socially harmful move comes after the supermarket giant recently refused to remove the pornographic Zoo magazine from children’s reach on their shelves despite a petition of over 38,000 calling for them to do so.

Their competitor Coles was more responsive.

Woolworths, a company which has always marketed itself as family-friendly, has announced to the stock market that it plans to drive sales in its pokie pubs with a commitment to provide promotional offers like kids eat free to drive food sales.

“These places are the wrong environment for children, if Woolworths were serious about their ‘family friendly’ direction, they should be sending children the other way.” Mr Shelton said.