Tasmanians have been urged to prioritise local people and the local economy, rather than fall for exaggerated industry claims about the benefits of poker machines.
Tim Costello is one of the nation’s leading advocates on poker machine reform.
“Whatever the election outcome, things are set to dramatically change in relation to the level of harm caused by poker machines in Tasmania,” said Revd Costello. “This state is about to set a course - not for the next few years, but for decades to come”.
Revd Costello said the Liberal plan would see pokies ownership move to an even more dangerous and competitive venue-owned model.
“If that happens, this state needs to be prepared for a potential move by a ruthless pokies operator like Woolworths to swoop in and become the state’s biggest operator, like it is in Victoria, South Australia, NSW and Queensland”. Woolworths already has a foothold in Tasmania, with five venues in the state.
Revd Costello said the Victorian experience had shown that competitive licensing was a recipe for disaster. “Tasmania’s gambling landscape would fundamentally shift and there’d be no turning back,” he said. “The more a bidder pays for a licence to operate a pokies venue, the more money they want to take out of that community. It also means that even more powerful vested interests get involved in your state’s affairs – with all the negative consequences that go with that”.
Tim Costello, who attended a public forum in the North West region last night, urged Tasmanians to see through industry’s threats and exaggerated claims.
“As expected, we’ve heard all sorts of ridiculous figures being thrown about,” he said. “The reality is that poker machines are sucking millions of dollars out of this state. The negative effects also cost Tasmania in relation to people’s health, family breakdown, crime and suicide.
“If you want to support local businesses and jobs, then take this opportunity to get poker machines out of hotels and clubs,” said Revd Costello. “Make the most of what’s special about your state, including the sense of community. People don’t come to this state to play poker machines”.
“Tasmania is ready to see the money being lost to poker machine redirected into local spending. Most importantly, this State can choose to dramatically reduce the harm poker machines cause to people. 40% of the revenue from poker machines is from people with a gambling addiction. Tasmanians know there are far better, more creative and ethical ways to do business”.
Released: Wednesday February 21