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Woolworths – The Pokies People

We've given the Woolies christmas ad campaign a GetUp-style reboot, to make "famous" the damage Woolies-owned pokies are wreaking on Australian families.

GetUp members are banding together to hijack Woolworths' multi-million dollar 'Make Your Christmas Famous' ad campaign. Why? Because few people realise that Woolworths are Australia's largest owner of poker machines.

Woolies craftily hides behind a family-friendly image while they take food off the tables of thousands of Australian families this holiday season. Until now.

Every time somebody sees one of the real Woolworths Christmas ads, they'll remember our ad and the damage Woolworths-owned pokies are wreaking on Australian families.

Together, we'll crash their Christmas party by exposing the truth – the first step to getting them to clean up their act.

Will you help spread the word by joining the campaign now, by adding your name to the petition?
Woolworths is exploiting the sense of family that the holiday season brings while its poker machines betray those same families every day. Together, we can expose the hypocrisy.

As the majority shareholder in the Australian Leisure and Hospitality (ALH) Group, Woolies operate 328 licensed venues across Australia. Woolworths operates over 12,000 poker machines in these Woolies-owned hotels. This makes Woolworths Australia's largest owner of poker machines.

Find it hard to believe? Here's a screenshot from the FAQ section of the Woolworths Limited website:

In 2012, GetUp members chipped in to fund a report that estimated the total net gambling revenue generated by Woolies poker machines in 2010-11 at $1.29 billion.

Woolies have not been forthcoming with reporting their profits from poker machines:

Industry whistleblowers broke the silence on poker machines this year, in explosive documentary Ka-Ching! Pokie Nation. Ka-Ching! went inside the machines to show how addictive technologies are used to keep people playing well beyond their means.

For too long the pokies industry has deflected attention away from its machines, targeting the "irresponsible gamblers" who play them.

Here are some of the tricks that were exposed by industry insiders in Ka-Ching!:

  • Poker machines are custom built for "process addiction". The machines trigger positive chemical responses in the brain with features such as sound, light and animation. Neuroscientists compared these responses to those triggered by cocaine.

  • Poker machines manipulate the user through techniques like "losses disguised as wins". This is when a user is fed some winning lines, which are celebrated as a win with bright lights and loud noises, when they've actually experienced a net loss.

  • Another misleading and deceptive technique is the use of "near misses", where the reel of the machine is laid out to mislead the user into thinking they've only just missed out on a win. These appear on some machines 13 times more often than they would if the reels were left to chance.
GetUp members are working with Tim Costello and the Alliance for Gambling Reform on 'The Pokies Play You' campaign.

The Alliance is a collaboration of organisations with a shared concern about the deeply harmful and unfair impacts of gambling. It includes more than 40 local governments, churches and community groups. GetUp is joining forces with the Alliance for Gambling Reform on 'The Pokies Play You' campaign.

Together, we intend to hold to account the people who make, control and regulate these machines – from Woolworths, the largest poker machine owner in the country, to government ministers, many of whom sit cosily in the pockets of the gaming industry.

Follow this link to learn more about 'The Pokies Play You' campaign and the Alliance for Gambling Reform:


Australians deserve con-free poker machines, that aren't designed to addict or rigged to lose over time. Get the pokies con out of our communities and our politics.

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