Tasmania could become first state to blow up the pokies

Prime Minister Julia Gillard talks with Independent Mp Andrew Wilkie at the conclusion of question time at Parliament House Canberra on Tuesday 10 May 2011. Photo by Andrew Meares / Fairfax SPECIAL 000000Tasmania would become the first state to remove poker machines from pubs and clubs in a major strike against the gambling industry announced by the state Labor opposition.

It comes as a report from the left-leaning Institute reveals is home to a stunning 76 per cent of the world’s poker machines in pubs, clubs and non-casino venues.

Tasmanian Labor leader Rebecca White said she would seize a “once in a generation” opportunity to ban pokies outside casinos if Labor wins next year’s election in that state.

It follows a parliamentary inquiry that showed $110 million was lost to the 2375 electronic gaming machines inside pubs and clubs across Tasmania last financial year.

“That is $110 million that’s not being spent in those communities,” Ms White said.

The move to ban the machines within five years represents a significant blow to the gaming industry, which is largely tolerated by the major parties.

Former Labor prime minister Julia Gillard squibbed on a deal with anti-pokies crusader Andrew Wilkie to introduce mandatory pre-commitment on gaming machines, and also refused calls for a $1 bet limit.

is home to about 200,000 poker machines – more per person than any country except a handful of gambling meccas – and ns lost $12 billion to the machines in 2015-16. Half of those losses were in the pokies-addicted state of NSW, whose government takes in close to $1.5 billion in taxation from poker machines each year.

Western is the only state in which pokies never proliferated, having been limited to Perth’s Burswood Casino since the 1970s. Excepting WA, Tasmania has the lowest per capita pokies losses of any state, according to the n Gambling Statistics database.

Ms White said the machines nonetheless had a “devastating affect on people and their families”, with seven additional people impacted for every person hit by a gambling addiction.

“There is absolutely no doubt this is a health issue,” she said. “This is the right thing to do for the health of our community.”

Under Labor’s plan, pubs would be assisted with a $55 million support package to wean them off the pokies. Casinos would be allowed to retain the machines.

Pokies in Tasmania are operated under the monopoly control of the Federal Group, which Fairfax Media has contacted for comment.

Mr Wilkie, who represents the Tasmanian seat of Denison, said Labor’s policy was “a win for those who have been tirelessly campaigning for meaningful poker machine reform”, and called on Liberal Premier Will Hodgman’s government to follow suit.

Bill Browne, co-author of the Institute report released on Wednesday, said was a “global anomaly” when it came to poker machines – even when taking casinos into account.

” has 0.3 per cent of the world’s population but 6 per cent of its conventional gaming machines and 18 per cent of its poker machines,” he said.

The report drew on data from the World Count of Gaming Machines survey commissioned by the Gaming Technologies Association, which only counts known, legal gaming machines. Not all such machines are counted as poker machines.

In a policy document, Tasmanian Labor indicated it would look to increase the tax on poker machine revenue at casinos to maintain the $4.5 million budgeted for anti-problem gambling causes.

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