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Pressure on poker machine issue

Pressure continues to mount on decision-makers to free Tasmanian communities from the grip of poker machines.

Poker machinesIt’s currently a key topic in the southern electorate of Pembroke where 25,000 voters will head to the polls this Saturday to decide this Legislative Council seat.

Anglicare’s Social Action and Research Centre has created a map of the Pembroke electorate which details where 150 poker machines are located. The machines take more than $8.1 million from this electorate each year.

The impact of poker machines will also be an issue of interest in upcoming local government elections in Burnie and Glenorchy. Poker machines take $7.37 million a year from the Burnie community. In Glenorchy, the machines take $20.1 million a year from the local community.

Anglicare CEO Chris Jones said it was time to free Tasmanian suburbs from the damage caused by poker machines.

“With the current poker machine licence period coming to an end at the end of 2018, it’s time for decision-makers to focus on the best interests of the community,” he said. “We’re at a tipping point on this issue, there’s a state election fast approaching, and widespread public support for the removal of poker machines from hotels and clubs”.

Voters in the Pembroke electorate are among those calling for change, and letters written to local Members of Parliament have included the following:

Please remove poker machines from pubs and clubs in Tasmania. They are programmed to create addictions in humans! They cause immense damage to our communities that can least afford it.

I would love to see what Tasmania could be without the impact of these dangerous, addictive machines sucking the life out of our state.

I would like to see the pokies out of our pubs and clubs as they appear to be doing too much damage to families.

For some time now we have been deeply concerned at the devastation to families when members of the families have become addicted to gambling on poker machines due to the plethora of gambling venues in various pubs and clubs. This not only affects the families but also the communities in which they live due to the social disorder it causes and also the millions of dollars gambled which might have been spend in that municipality.

With the evidence that is now readily available of this huge social cost, it is well and truly time to redress the situation by removing poker machines out of community venues like pubs and clubs and also make sure that poker machines that remain in casinos are properly regulated to be safe and fair. 

As an ordinary member of the public it distresses me to learn of the callous harm foisted on people who are economically vulnerable in our state, through poker machines.

Anglicare found that in Pembroke, each of the 16 schools in the electorate was located within two kilometres of at least one poker machines venue. Easy access is a key reason why people use poker machines.

“The fewer poker machines are located in an area, the less likely it is that someone will start using them,” said Chris. “And we know that one in six people who regularly uses a poker machine will develop a serious addiction to them.  The machines were deliberately designed to make a player feel as if they are winning, but this is not the case”.

Chris said the state’s decision-makers had an opportunity too critical to miss. In 2023, the current poker machine monopoly will expire, and the future of pokies in Tasmanian pubs and clubs could be changed forever.

 “This is a chance to save lives and promote healthier communities,” he said. “Let’s not waste it”.


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