'Gaming Room Open' signs from gambling providers must be removed from Adelaide streets within 7 days after an administrative error found that the warning 'Gamble Responsibly' wasn't properly checked and was actually a paradoxical oxymoron promising an impossible outcome.
This means that, according to the Gambling Responsibly Omnibus Act III 1937 SAA, as 'Gaming Room Open' signs are not allowed to be displayed without a valid warning venues must remove the signs until the warning is updated.
Government departments are scrambling for a new warning as the South Australian Government earns over $1m a day from gaming machines (to March 2023) from 470-480 venues across South Australia.(Source: CBS.sa.gov.au website). Editor note May 2023. Weirdly the link we had for these statistics was changed, so we have refreshed to the new link. We have also pasted a screen grab below of the $1m plus per day gambling taxes received by the SA state government. Remember, the tax take is only a % of the losses - so the daily losses out of the SA public pocket is much more AND these machines and losses DON'T include the machines and losses at the Adelaide Casino).
The administrative error was discovered by a first year student PJ* in Adelaide studying LAW 1501 at Adelaide University. The error follows a recent similar episode in Victoria where the courts have thrown out cases brought by Victoria Police who were incorrectly sworn in.
The State of South Australia was alerted to the 'Gamble Responsibly' issue by the student's lecturer who was able to text message Premier Steven Marshall direct since they reconnected at a Norwood COVID-19 event in December 2021. The lecturer suggested the government had dropped the ball on this one.
The lecturer suggested a simple misunderstanding about the meaning of the words 'gamble' and' responsibly', when used together, had allowed the gaming industry and the SA Government to profit off the misery of huge financial losses by gamblers who thought they were 'gambling responsibly'.
The administrative error was discovered with a little homework by student PJ. The meanings of individual words are fundamental building blocks of legislation that govern our lives. Legislation allows us to buy petrol and lukewarm sausage rolls from a bain marie on Port Road in the middle of the night. Without a piece of legislation enabling us to do something, there is no legal authority to do the thing.
What a court is asked to determine what a word in a law means the use of a dictionary can be the start and end point. When defining words in a law in Australia, The Macquarie Dictionary is the 'go to' dictionary for Australia Courts all the way to the High Court in Canberra.
The Macquarie dictionary defines gamble as: 'to stake or risk money on chance; to play a game of chance; or to act on favourable hopes or assessment'. The Macquarie dictionary defines responsibly as: 'being able to discharge obligations or debts; and being reliable in business dealings; showing reliability.
The South Australian Attorney General (SAAG) agreed the definitions opened up the SA Government to claims of exploitation of gamblers benefiting state coffers. The SAAG said legal advice from the Solicitor General suggested the paradoxical oxymoron of 'gamble responsibly' might indeed be successfully argued in a court.
The SAAG said a reasonable and prudent course of action was to remove the signs of gambling providers immediately. This would protect taxpayer funds and reduce legal costs from anti-gambling campaigners until a reworded warning without ambiguity was in place.
The office of the SAAG also stated:
Gamble Responsibly cannot be achieved, because gambling is throwing money to chance down the plughole of these machines spread through suburbs and heavily promoted on signs on city streets from 8am daily for problem gamblers to see every day when they drive to work to earn money to gamble. Gambling that generates $1M a day for the South Australian goverment in gaming taxes, creamed off the profit of gambling venues, is not being done responsibly in a way that allows many gamblers to discharge their debts and family financial responsibilities with any reliability.
The current 'Gamble Responsibly' warning is likely to be replaced with an exclusion warning:
Warning: Gambling on the machines in the venue by this sign will damage your financial health and your family life. Do not enter this gaming room. Machines are programmed to take more money from you than you can ever win. Enter at your own risk.’
The Gaming Pubs For Private Profit and Hotels in Adelaide Association (The GPFPPaHiAA) was contacted for comment.
More to come.
*PJ; not his real name, to protect him from members of The GPFPPaHiAA
Posted: Saturday 12 March 2022