In February, a Parliamentary Inquiry heard the voices of Tasmanian people who were given the opportunity to express their attitudes to gambling.
Bodies with a financial interest in poker machines, lobbied the Government to give them more favourable conditions for their businesses.
A range of community groups, organisations and individuals called on the Government to reduce the harm caused in our communities by these machines.
Anglicare spoke to its submission. Our representative, Meg Webb, described this as a "once in a generation opportunity for our leaders to make clear, accountable and evidence-based decisions on the future of poker machines in Tasmania".
Ms Webb said that, "Every study into the effects of poker machines in Tasmania shows a large social and economic harm, and every poll of the Tasmanian community shows that Tasmanians know this and do not want them in their communities."
Meg made the following points why they do not belong in the community:
- Poker machines are not a normal entertainment product.
- It is accepted that poker machines are designed to be addictive.
- The Tasmanian Liquor and Gaming Commission say that poker machines cause 'disquiet' because of their extremely high capacity for harm.
- The Productivity Commission found that one in six people who use poker machines regularly are likely to develop a gambling problem.
- This research on the harmful nature of poker machines is supported by the real-life experiences of Anglicare's clients.
Angela Lutz, Anglicare's Support Services Coordinator, read a client's letter to the committee:
I'm writing this full of emotion as I know full well the impact of hotel gaming venues. It took me a while to connect the two and to realise my husband had a severe poker machine addiction...
I found large amounts of money deducted daily, lies, abuse, denial and refusal to receive help...
In desperation I phoned a gambling line, which led me to Anglicare. I needed to understand why a person gambled their hard-earned money and received very little monetary gain.
Would I like to see poker machines removed from hotels? A resounding yes, and I would cheer the day they do.
Jonathon was another voice for those who are affected by family members. He spoke of the devastating impact poker machines had on his sister. She survives by relying on Jonathon and their mother to help cover her losses to get her through to her next pension.
Anglicare is a member of the Community Voice on Pokies Reform coalition that was established in November 2015 with fifteen member organisations. Today, they number forty-four and include community groups, professional associations, service organisations and local councils.
Meg Webb spoke to the Community Voice on Pokies Reform submission. "Together our members are directly connected with tens of thousands of Tasmanians," she said.
"In our diversity, we all care about the impact of poker machines on Tasmanian people and communities. We care because we are those communities."
Meg spoke of the surveys and polls that have been taken in Tasmania from 1994, prior to poker machines in pubs and clubs, through to 2016. Whether conducted independently or by Government, they have provided consistent results.
"More than eighty per cent of Tasmanians do not believe that their community has benefited from having poker machines in the hotels and clubs.
"More that eighty per cent of Tasmanians want to see poker machines reduced or removed from hotels and clubs in Tasmania," she said.
Nearly one hundred people made individual submissions to the Committee in favour of removing poker machines from pubs and clubs.
"Today we celebrate the synergy of the coalition. They have powerfully represented the voice of every-day Tasmanians," said Chris Jones, CEO Anglicare Tasmania.
"Our proposal is for poker machines to be removed from hotels and clubs at the expiration of the current Deed, and from that time be located only in casino environments with a greater level of consumer protection in place.
"With so much at stake we are hopeful the Government will listen to the voice of the Tasmanian community and choose to deliver a healthier and more prosperous Tasmania for all Tasmanians."
- SARC blog on the Hearings - https://medium.com/social-action-and-research-centre/parliamentary-hearings-into-gaming-markets-eadcf0a54c76#.armcuuejx
- Hansard transcripts are on the inquiry website.