MEDIA EMBARGO: UNTIL 6AM, SATURDAY 30 SEPTEMBER 2023.
One major Australian industry super fund - which boasts one million members and which promotes itself as a responsible investor - holds more than $351 million in gambling-relating equities, according to new analysis by the Alliance for Gambling Reform.
The analysis shows that Hesta’s ready-made super portfolio holdings as at 30 June 2023 included shares in gambling-related companies such as Aristocrat Leisure Ltd ($198 million), the Endeavour Group ($51 million) and Flutter ($39 million).
And these figures don’t include Blackstone, the private equity firm that acquired Crown, of which its holds almost $12 million worth of shares.
Hesta actually increased its holding in gambling stocks by almost $15 million in the last six months rather than moving to divest itself of gambling equities.
An Alliance Position Paper, ‘Australian Superannuation Fund Investments in Gambling’, reveals that the ten biggest funds all hold at least one major gambling shareholding in their portfolio.
The top 10’s shareholding in Aristocrat alone totals at least $1.67 billion worth of shares.
The CEO of the Alliance for Gambling Reform, Carol Bennett, said Australians would be shocked by the level of investment that their superannuation funds have made in gambling stocks.
“The gambling industry is a predatory industry that preys on the vulnerable and rips out $25 billion in losses from communities across Australia. There is no place for superannuation funds to be investing our money in such equities – especially those funds that spruik their ethical credentials so prominently,” she said.
“It is unacceptable for super funds to claim – as some do – that by investing in gambling companies they can bring influence to bear to reduce gambling harm. We have not seen any evidence to support this claim.”
“Contributing to superannuation is mandatory for working Australians, but it shouldn’t be mandatory to contribute our retirement savings to companies that profit from gambling harm”.
The Alliance has condemned the current portfolio disclosure requirements regime as being “patently inadequate” as a tool for enabling Australians to readily identify which equities superannuation funds are invested in, and to make informed choices about how their retirement savings are invested.
“We are calling on the Federal Government to urgently enact improved superannuation fund portfolio holdings disclosure requirements, and to fund an independent agency rating and certification of superannuation products,” Ms Bennett said.
The Alliance is a national advocacy organisation which works to prevent and minimise the harm from gambling. Our aim is to remove the shame that surrounds gambling addiction, have the problem treated as a public health issue, and achieve the legislative changes needed to protect our communities. We bring together well over 60 organisations who share the objectives of preventing harm from gambling.
See here for a gambling language guide for journalists.
Carol Bennett is available for interview
The Alliance is the only national peak body working to reduce gambling harm. We have over 60 supporting organisations in our network and 23 leadership local councils in Victoria who have an interest in reducing the exponential level of gambling harm in Australia.
Martin Thomas - 0477 340 704