If Labor wins next year’s election in Tasmania, the state will become Australia’s first to rid pubs and clubs of poker machines.
A recent report revealed an incredible 76% of the world’s poker machines in non-casino venues are found in Australia. In light of the revelation, the Labor opposition is taking a stand against the excessive focus on gambling in Australia.
Over 2000 gaming machines exist within pubs and clubs across Tasmania, raking in approximately $110 million from Tasmanian citizens in the financial year ended June 2017.
Rebecca White, Tasmanian Labor leader, believes an upcoming win for the Labor party would present an unmissable opening for the government to crackdown on the gambling industry.
Poker machines are argued to be stripping the community of valuable investments, with billions being wasted on gambling outside of casinos annually. The machines have also induced many devastating health issues, in which the impacts far exceed the individual.
A single gambling addiction is said to affect seven others, with financial, emotional and psychological factors placing an enormous strain on families.
As a result, a pushback on the amount of machines available is thought to be protecting public health. Not only will gambling become less of a common social activity, but funds will also be redirected to more worthwhile causes.
Australian gambling industry
The Federal Group operates in a monopoly market in Tasmania, holding the complete control of poker machines.
As a whole, Australia operates around 200,000 poker machines. This significant number gives Australia one of the highest pokies per person ratio, competing amongst the world’s largest gambling hubs. In 2015-16, Australians experienced $12 billion in losses on poker machines, with NSW representing an astonishing 50% of these damages.
Bill Browne has voiced his concerns on Australia’s disproportionate gambling industry. Although Australia holds a mere 0.3% of the world’s population, 18% of the globe’s poker machines are found in the country, highlighting a need for change.
Labor’s reform plans
If the Labor party is successful in the next Tasmanian election, the current opposition is ready to deliver on the ongoing anti-poker campaigns.
Labor’s plan sees $55 million dedicated to Tasmanian pubs in the future, as a part of a support package to ease the venues into the change. Casinos will be allowed to retain the only poker machines in the state.
To compensate for the loss in machine volume, the Labor party has proposed an increased tax on casino poker machines. The taxation may be necessary to retain the $4.5 million budget for gambling related problems, in order to continue supporting those affected by addiction.
The upcoming Tasmanian election may represent a radical change in the gambling industry. Beginning with state alteration, Labor’s strong anti-poker standpoint could potentially spark nationwide reform in the future.