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Some unusual bedfellows have come together as the almighty gambling dollar tries to lock in its future online.

The Reverend’s phone was running hot with updates and a quick skim of Friday’s papers would suggest a major win for the anti-gambling forces and a loss for Kerry Packer which Crikey supports wholeheartedly.

It looks like the Greens did most of the media briefing claiming credit for the win which was supported by One Nation senator Len Harris, Brian Harradine and the Coalition.

But and there has been little focus on the split in Democrats ranks. Did anyone notice that only Senators John Woodley, Meg Lees and Lyn Allison voted with the Government. The party’s leader, Senator Natasha Stott Despoja, her deputy, Senator Aden Ridgeway, and Senators Vicki Bourne, Brian Greig, Andrew Bartlett and Andrew Murray supported Labor in promoting gambling and promoting the interests of Kerry Packer who has an internet gambling licence from the Tasmanian government.

Natasha is shaping up like a Packer sycophant as Eddie McGuire’s brother Frank joined her staff as senior adviser just days before this vital vote. Eddie was MC at the 1999 Packer wedding and has made big bucks for the Packers through The Footy Show. Natasha got invited to the Packer wedding because of her romance with Nine journalist Hugh Riminton and has conspicuously dated Footy Show dickhead Sam Newman.

The McGuire’s are in thick with Labor and the Packers. Frank used to work in John Cain’s media unit for David White, who is now the preferred Tattersall’s door-opener in Melbourne where he flies the flag for those Labor-associated lobbyists, Hawker Britten. The combination of Packer, the McGuires, David White, Tattersalls and Hawker Britten managed to get the McGuire-Tattersalls joint venture Tipstars the footy gambling licence in Victoria which has thankfully bombed.

Crikey thinks it is appalling that David White would work for Tattersall’s because he was the Ministerial dill who drafted the legislation in 1991 which gave Tatts its lucrative gaming duopoly in Victoria for free. This licence is now worth about $2 billion and this gift was perhaps the greatest act of stupidity by the Cain/Kirner Labor governments.

Natasha needs to be very careful. The Packers are famous for their influence over politicians and Natasha sure looks like she’s been influenced by taking the Packer line on internet gambling at a time when she’s involved with all these Packer associates. That will not go down well with voters looking for the Democrats to keep the bastards honest.

Packer is said to be furious with the Greens and some Democrats for shooting down his online gaming legislation. And with Westfield’s Frank Lowy breathing down his neck on the wealth stakes Big Kerry must be looking for a few more government rents to exploit.

For instance, can you believe that smoking is now completely banned at Burswood casino in Perth and Star City in Sydney but problem gamblers can puff away whilst pouring thousands into the Packer pockets at Crown casino.

When is Bracks going to move on this front because all problem gamblers are smokers.

The Labor-associated PR firm CPR were paid $635,000 to inform Victorians about the new smoking laws that came into effect on July 1 and make it illegal to smoke in restaurants.

But with the Packers paying $100,000 to the state ALP in late 1999, they expected to get some value from their investment and the delays in banning smoking in Victorian pubs and clubs is certainly playing into the Packers hands.

The liquor union is said to be furious with the Bracks government for not banning smoking in clubs and pubs because many workers find it very damaging.

Maybe Victoria needs a judgment against Crown like that issued in NSW recently when a long-serving barmaid in a club won a $466,000 damages payout for damage caused by passive smoking.

Tattersalls, Crown and Tabcorp are dead against this because they know that gambling revenues would fall if people could not smoke while throwing away their life savings. The key to stopping a problem gambler is to interrupt the play so if they have to go outside for a smoke they might realise how stupid they are being.

The Packer’s like to use pretty direct methods to get their way with regulators and politicians but Tattersall’s are a far more insidious influence in Victoria. Crikey will not be joining the Melbourne Press Club until they are freed of the pokies influence and dump Tatts as their chief sponsor.

The relationship between Tatts and the Herald Sun is also questionable. On June 26, the Herald Sun’s page three lead was all about which municipality had sold the most winning lotto tickets. Yep, that’s right folks, the second most important story that day was a meaningless analysis of winning Tatts tickets. Why doesn’t the Hun put together a page three do-up on the christian names of winners. Have more Lachlans won first division than Jamies. Does anyone really care? Does it mean anything?

Call me a cynic, but page 7 of Hun on that day had the big Tatts ad which was dressed up to look like a news story. It began as follows:

“A $10,000 donation from Tattersall’s to the Victorian Homeless Fund has assisted in the refurbishment of ‘Tattersall’s House’, a transitional emergency accommodation property for homeless families in the Collingwood area.”

It went on like that for a few paragraphs with Tatts CEO Duncan Fischer pictured with the Liberal state member for Wantirna Kim Wells, who is chairman of the Victorian Homeless Fund.

At the bottom of the ad was the following fact box:

DID YOU KNOW?

More than 100,000 people are employed in the gambling industry in Australia.

Tattersall’s gaming network has staged 3,638 live performances by entertainers since January 2000. (See Friday’s Gig Guide in the Herald Sun)

This is just Tatts using the age old tactics of pointing out that losses by problem gamblers employ people, including entertainers for these as they go into the grog, smokes and pokies spiral in this fine nation of ours which just happens to have citizens who lose more gambling than any other country in the world.

Crikey knows someone who used to work in the marketing department of either Tatts or Tabcorp and this is her take on the way they operate.

Marketing insider dishes dirt on pokies pushers

“Desperate Optimists” were the highest spenders of all segments and the most out of control in their behaviour. There were 5 or 6 segments with the total audience representing about 40% of Victorians.

The DO’s were high in value but small in number – making them very attractive as a target because management and marketing expenses to contact them directly should be small relative to their spend on the pokies.

The biggest segment and the positioning of Tatts pokies was more the Social Gambler. Remember the Tatts ads that had the seniors walking down to their local and meeting their friends there for a flutter? They also had a younger version of this with young adults doing the same.

This left Tabcorp with a conundrum as their original positioning had been more around “It’s T time” emphasising the big cosmopolitan ‘T’ icon. Their positioning had unfortunately pushed them into a bit of a ‘no man’s land’ area where they were seen as more serious and less friendly than Tatts, but less exciting as well. So they’re positioning left little to be happy about.

In divising a multiple segment targeting strategy, Tabcorp came up with several programs that were designed to not only ensnare the Desperate Optimists but also appeal to the Sporting and Social Gamblers. The “Pareto Principle” is that 80% of your customers are responsible for only 20% of the spend and vice versa – so focus the majority of the spend on the smaller groups that will pay off.

For this reason, Tabcorp actively targeted those customers that gambled in higher multiples (in terms of spend and frequency of visits) than the average with the idea of increasing our revenues in the most cost efficient way – maximum return for minimum spend.

For the desperate optimists, we wanted to make them feel as comfortable as possible in the venues so they never had to leave. We aimed to ‘protect’ their spend by making them special VIP members and providing all kinds of free meals and drinks to keep them – regardless of their reckless spend levels. The strategies were aimed to maximise return with absolutely no regard for the welfare of the prospect of this campaign.

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-In-Chief of Crikey

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