Mr Mohr said: “These industries are known for being very dogmatic in their pursuit of profits from gambling.”
“We are really concerned their advice is self-serving and not in the interests of public health efforts we are fighting right now.”
Mr Mohr said for many people the coronavirus lockdown had been their first real break from their gambling addiction. He said he believed there was a way to reopen pubs and clubs safely while also reforming the industry.
“We can do both. We can have a well-managed reopening of pubs and clubs and also reduce gambling harm at the same time,” he said.
“It’s absolutely outrageous we have got a taskforce internally advocating for their own profits … it needs to be transparent, public, and in the public interest.
“It’s pretty outrageous at a time when we need to maintain public confidence that the government have this little cabal of advice for profit.”
He said he believed confidence in the government was undermined by the formation of the taskforce, and said the hospitality sector should be reopened without the gambling sector.
Marlene Kairouz, state Minister for Consumer Affairs, Gaming and Liquor Regulation, said the government would “follow the advice of the Chief Health Officer to determine when it is appropriate and safe for licensed venues and casinos to reopen”.
Alliance for Gambling Reform’s chief advocate, Tim Costello, said more than $1.5 billion had been saved in poker machine and gambling table losses nationally since lockdown began.
“The absolute best way to prevent gambling harm in Australia is to keep the poker machines switched off,” he said.
“COVID-19 is presenting us with a unique opportunity to rethink the dire situation Australia has gotten itself into with the prevalence of gambling.”
A Crown spokeswoman said the health and safety of staff, customers and the community was its priority.
“While the number of active COVID-19 cases continues to decline, Australians have made massive sacrifices, and Australian companies, including Crown, would not want all the gains to be squandered after all the pain our community has endured,” she said.
“That’s why, while Crown’s resorts are closed, we are using this valuable time to develop comprehensive policies to make sure our venues are as safe as possible for our guests and employees once the government permits us to reopen.”
A Tabcorp spokesman said: “Tabcorp is looking forward to continuing to work with all governments on supporting pubs and clubs to reopen when it is appropriate and safe to do so.”
The taskforce, which meets weekly, is aiming to finalise its recommendations in the next fortnight.
The recommendations will be handed to the state government, which will present the document to the national cabinet when it deliberates on relaxing restrictions.
Ms Kairouz addressed the group and indicated venues might be permitted to open by late July at the earliest, according to three people familiar with the call.
It is expected pubs and clubs will be given about a month to prepare to reopen once the national cabinet decides to ease restrictions on hospitality venues.
Members of the taskforce insist they are not pressuring the government to lift restrictions quickly, but are supportive of government health measures to avoid outbreaks and secondary shutdowns.
Simone is a crime reporter for The Age. Most recently she covered breaking news for The Age, and before that for The Australian in Melbourne.