‘Socially Minded’ Superannuation Funds Are Putting Money Into The Gambling Industry

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According to a recent analysis, Australia’s most significant superannuation funds are investing huge volumes of workers’ retirement savings in casinos and poker machines.

In Australia, the most significant super funds have frantically invested more than $4.2bn of workers’ retirement money into gambling-related companies – like pokies manufacturers and casino operators – through so-called “socially aware” investment options.

Endeavour Group, Australia’s largest poker machine operator with 12,539 pokies across 300 hotels, is invested in Australian Super’s “Socially Aware” option and Rest’s “Sustainable Growth” options.

AustralianSuper’s Socially Aware option does not only invest in casino operators but also the largest pokies manufacturer in Australia, Aristocrat Leisure Ltd.

Australia’s third-largest super fund, Aware, which invests your money in Noble schemes for the betterment of the community, also has many gambling stocks, including Aristocrat and Endeavour.

The Morrison government’s legislation from last year requires superannuation funds to release data biannually on their investments. The most recent accessible information was used for this analysis, and accuracy was confirmed as of 30 June 2020.

The ten most significant super funds invest in Aristocrat Leisure, owning a total of $1.67bn worth of shares at the very minimum. As one of the world’s biggest poker machine manufacturers developing gambling apps, the company generated $4.7bn in revenue last year. It boasted an 80% market share for pokies in Australia, according to Ibisworld research data from 2021.

“Aristocrat is well-positioned to benefit from the rise of electronic gaming… we expect Aristocrat to increase its market share as operators increasingly shift their business towards unbranded and lower-risk terminals,” wrote Morningstar equity analyst Nathan Dong.

However, according to a study conducted by Dr Sally Gainsbury at the University of Sydney, poker machines are known to be addictive, and most Australians do not realise their investment in the industry may have a detrimental impact on the health of those affected.

“Pokies are the most dangerous form of gambling because they have high-speed play, huge jackpots, and there’s no limit to how long you can continue playing,” Dr Gainsbury said.

“The truth is that some people are losing their life savings and are at risk of gambling-related harm.”

According to Gambling Help Online, a confidential online counselling service operated by the Australian government since 1999 to help Australians with problem gambling, around half a million adults use the website each year, and gambling is now more widespread than ever.

The centre’s chief executive officer, Karl Westvig, said that pokies are “setting people up to lose” in a way that causes immense harm to users.

“There are some people that when they win, it will simply be a case of ‘that was fun; I’ll play again,” he said.

“But what happens to many other people is they feel that they’ve won but then lose it all and end up losing more than they ever could have in the first place.”

Online gambling, known as interactive gaming, has increased in recent years in Australia and makes up an estimated 24% of the nation’s gambling industry.

With the recent legislation forcing super funds to release information on their investments, it is clear that more and more Australians are investing in companies with ties to the gambling industry.

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