Local councils are urged to speak up in defence of their communities by supporting the removal of poker machines from clubs and pubs.
A new interactive map released by Anglicare reveals the money lost by local communities on poker machine gambling. It shows the total dollar loss experienced by each Local Government Area, how much each poker machine takes from the community, and the average loss per adult.
There are 16 LGAs where every poker machine in the community takes the same or more than the local average wage.
“These machines are rigged to win and designed for addiction,” said Meg Webb from Anglicare’s Social Action and Research Centre. “This map shows the harm that’s being done at a local level”.
“Tasmanians do not want poker machines in their home towns and suburbs. People are well acquainted with the damage they cause, including family breakdown, depression, financial hardship, health problems, legal matters, work issues and suicide”.
Poker machines were introduced in the state in 1997. Tasmanians now lose almost $200 million each year to poker machine gambling.
A statewide poll conducted in November revealed that 4 in 5 Tasmanians want poker machines reduced in number or removed entirely from clubs and hotels.
“Local government can advocate for the health, safety and wellbeing of communities,” said Ms Webb. “By supporting the removal of poker machines, councils can clearly demonstrate that they’re serious about putting people first”.
Brighton Mayor Tony Foster said his council was particularly unhappy about the concentration of poker machines in low socio-economic areas.
“Local government, as the tier of government closest to the community, can help to bring about change,” he said. “Money is being bled from our communities and poker machine gambling is having all kinds of adverse consequences for families, small businesses and on general economic activity,” Mr Foster said. “Our communities are unhappy and we can’t stand idly by. I urge all councils to declare their intention to go poker-machine free”.
Anglicare has written to all Tasmanian councils urging them to join a local coalition of groups seeking the removal of poker machines from hotels and clubs.