Len Ainsworth’s gambling philanthropy evokes critiques of donation recipients

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The Ainsworth household title adorns artwork galleries, universities and hospitals throughout Sydney.

There may be an Ainsworth wing on the Sydney Youngsters’s Hospital. An Ainsworth Household Gallery at Sydney Fashionable, the brand new arm of the Artwork Gallery of NSW, the place the Ainsworths’ have helped fund, part-fund or given virtually 100 works, together with these by celebrated artists akin to Russell Drysdale, John Black, Simryn Gill and David Hockney.

There may be an Ainsworth Constructing at UNSW, and one other on the Western Sydney College. In the meantime, Sydney College has The Ainsworth Interactive Assortment of Medical Pathology that contains 1600 preserved medical specimens, together with a coronary heart courting to 1895, a lung contaminated by the 1918 Spanish flu, and an 1888 flask of broth made and sealed by Louis Pasteur. Sydney College additionally has an Ainsworth Chair of Expertise and Innovation, arrange on the request of the Cerebral Palsy Alliance, with funding it acquired from the Ainsworths.

Close to the Prince of Wales’ hospital precinct there’s a Margarete Ainsworth Constructing, after the household’s cash helped construct the unbiased Neuroscience Analysis Australia centre.


The Ainsworths are one of many 20 wealthiest households in Australia, with an estimated fortune of some $5.7 billion, in keeping with The Australian Monetary Overview Wealthy Checklist.

Their patriarch, Len Ainsworth, turns 100 in July. He, his now ex-second spouse Margarete, and a few of his seven sons, have a powerful document of generosity throughout town, having given not less than $60 million away. In return, their title has been hooked up to outstanding establishments as a permanent image of feat, the place future generations will keep in mind the household’s philanthropic legacy.

The origins of the Ainsworth’s cash, which got here from poker machine manufacturing, could also be forgotten over time. However not if some critics may also help it. They’re questioning the rules and ethics of the schooling, well being and humanities establishments, and whether or not they need to be accepting the household’s philanthropy in any respect.

“The problem right here is that Mr Ainsworth’s fortune comes from playing, and exactly the manufacture of playing machines, that are clearly and unequivocally probably the most dangerous type of playing on this nation,” says Charles Livingstone, head of Monash College’s Playing and Social Determinants Unit. “Whether or not it comes immediately from Mr Ainsworth, or his kids, is irrelevant. The cash got here from the proceeds of harming a major variety of folks, amongst them, a few of the most weak within the nation.”

It’s a view shared, not surprisingly, by one of many nation’s staunchest playing reform campaigners, Tim Costello, who additionally chairs the Group Council for Australia, a peak physique for the charity sector. He says such organisations shouldn’t be taking cash that has been derived from an trade that has induced social harm and distress. “There are moral questions. None of these establishments would take it if the cash had come from the manufacturing of tobacco or weapons.”

‘Most charitable organisations, after they meet me, are grateful for assist to realize their fantastic, altruistic goals.’

Len Ainsworth, founding father of Aristocrat and Ainsworth Gaming Applied sciences

Len Ainsworth is the daddy of the poker machine manufacturing trade in Australia. The trade has generated billions of dollars in income and, some argue, created lots of of hundreds of playing addicts.

A research, printed final month within the Journal of Behaviour Addictions, of 71,103 playing circumstances in Australia, concluded that poker machines have been chargeable for 51-57 per cent of playing habit within the nation, which have resulted in societal issues such because the indebtedness, crime, drug use, household breakdowns, home violence, homelessness and suicides.

The research’s authors wrote: “Digital Gaming Machines (poker machines) are accountable for almost all of playing issues within the nation. Regardless, calls to scale back availability, prohibit their extra addictive structural options, or implement different options which may interrupt extreme spending, all seem to have been ignored. Digital Gaming Machine regulation must be the primary precedence for decreasing playing hurt in Australia.”

Poker machine playing habit has additionally turn into a marketing campaign situation within the forthcoming NSW election, with Premier Dominic Perrottet committing to introducing a cashless gaming card for all of the state’s poker machines by 2028. The Opposition has dedicated to a trial.

The NSW Crime Fee known as for reform final 12 months, together with a cashless gaming card, after claiming that $95 billion in money flows via poker machines in pubs and golf equipment in NSW annually, making it the playing capital of Australia. These money flows additionally included laundered cash from prison gangs.

Len Ainsworth created two poker machine producers, Aristocrat and Ainsworth Gaming Applied sciences, which have been vastly profitable right here and globally. They’ve generated virtually unimaginable wealth, a lot in order that Ainsworth is one among 5 Australians who’ve joined the Invoice Gates-inspired Giving Pledge, to offer away half his fortune. Requested how most of that fortune can be given away after he dies, Ainsworth informed The Sydney Morning Herald: “Ask me once I’m 105.”

Ainsworth funding has helped protect the Ainsworth Interactive Assortment of Medical Pathology that contains 1600 preserved medical specimens.

Even so, Ainsworth says his goal has been to make “a optimistic and lasting contribution to medical analysis and schooling”. He says the establishments he and his household have given to have taken “a really totally different educated and regarded view” from his critics. “Most charitable organisations after they meet me are grateful for assist to realize their fantastic, altruistic goals.”

Sydney College, which has acquired thousands and thousands from Ainsworth, has a Playing Analysis and Therapy Clinic that has helped greater than 550 downside gamblers, via its Mind and Thoughts Centre. The college says it has strict tips round its reward coverage and procedures.

The UNSW gives a playing and restoration assist course and has carried out analysis into downside playing. It acquired a donation of $10 million from Len Ainsworth to assist assemble a brand new constructing in its engineering and manufacturing college, now often known as the Ainsworth Constructing. UNSW says it accepts philanthropic presents in good religion, with the intention the donation could have a optimistic affect.

Western Sydney College acquired a $10 million donation for its constructing works from Ainsworth. Final month, the college’s suppose tank, the Centre for Western Sydney, launched an points paper declaring that playing is Western Sydney’s silent epidemic. It famous that there was one poker machine for each 105 folks in Western Sydney, in contrast with one in 113 folks for the remainder of Sydney.

Western Sydney College mentioned in a press release the reward from Len Ainsworth was in alignment with its tips for donations and fundraising, and with its mission, targets and insurance policies.

The Ainsworth Constructing on the UNSW within the Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering precinct.

St Vincent’s Non-public Hospital Sydney, which additionally referred to its rigorous philanthropic tips, acquired a $5 million donation from Ainsworth to contribute to its constructing works. The general public arm of St Vincent’s runs a statewide, government-funded Playing Therapy Program.

“Should you’re a charity or organisation that’s working with downside gamblers, and are attempting to assist individuals who have gotten playing habit issues, or simply want welfare, taking cash from the supply of the issue, or a part of the supply of the issue, is counterproductive,” says John McLeod, a senior analysis marketing consultant at JBWere’s Philanthropic Companies and Household Advisory.

Len Ainsworth’s oldest son, Geoff, has a basis often known as Oranges & Sardines, and says it’s clear with its recipients about its unique supply of earnings. Geoff, who declined to be interviewed, has not been concerned or held shares in Aristocrat because the mid-90s.

It’s as much as the establishments to simply accept or decline donations from philanthropists and do the due diligence, says McLeod. He gives this recommendation to purchasers. “After we’re advising for-purpose organisations about accepting donations, the fundamental factor we ask them to consider is by accepting that cash, what are the implications for you in accepting it, and does that improve or detract out of your trigger?”

Simon Longstaff, govt director of The Ethics Centre, says there may be an moral situation in accepting cash that has been derived from the playing trade. Nevertheless, he says it’s not a easy one, notably if the person, akin to Len Ainsworth, has had a protracted relationship with sure charitable organisations, and hasn’t simply determined to varnish how he made his fortune with a veneer of do-goodery.


“It’s potential that Mr Ainsworth has been doing this quietly for years and years and years, and there’s a complete community of relationships, that are primarily based on private interplay, and that he’s developed a extremely honest affinity for the causes that he helps,” says Longstaff. “So, it’s not about making an attempt to clean his arms of any criticism.”

Even so, Len Ainsworth and his household now discover themselves giving again in a world the place there may be rising criticism that such philanthropy won’t ever match what poker machines have taken.

The Morning Version e-newsletter is our information to the day’s most vital and fascinating tales, evaluation and insights. Enroll right here.

Len Ainsworth’s gambling philanthropy evokes critiques of donation recipients

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