The poker machine card. Simple as.

In September 2022, the Tasmanian Government committed to implementing a universal player card gambling system for poker machines by December 2024.  This will deliver on recommendations made by the Tasmanian Liquor and Gambling Commission after extensive research and consultation.

This is a positive action that will reduce harm with minimal impact on people who engage in recreational gambling.

drawing of a hand holding a card with simple as written on it. Indicating that the universal poker machine card will be a simple way of addressing gambling harm in Tasmania.

How will the card work?

The Tasmanian Government has committed that, from December 2024, you will need a registered player card to use poker machines in all hotels, clubs and casinos anywhere in Tasmania.

The card as announced will have the following features:

  • Universal – Everyone will need a player card to gamble on a poker machine.
  • One card per person – You register for a single card with a unique PIN.
  • Cashless – You load your card with funds using cash or a debit card via EFTPOS at a cashier desk at the venue.
  • Statewide – Using your card and PIN, you can gamble on any poker machine if there are funds on your card and you have not reached a preset loss limit or time limit.
  • Information – Your card will message you about your gambling activity such as how much money you have lost or won and time spent gambling.
  • Loss limits – When your loss limit is reached, your card will not allow gambling until the next default period. Any increase in your loss limit takes effect after a cooling off period (see table).
  • Time limits and breaks – The card will automatically become inactive for 10 minutes after two hours of continuous gambling.
  • Control and privacy – You can control how much you lose and how much you spend gambling on poker machines. It’s easy to self-exclude by simply setting your limit to zero.

A table that summarises the features of the Poker Machine card and the limits and restrictions that apply on a daily, monthly and yearly basis.

Why do we need a poker machine card?

Harm from poker machines in Tasmania is increasing

In 2022-2023, Tasmanians lost $189.6 million gambling on poker machines, which was $11.5 million (6.4%) more than they lost the previous year. Gambling harm from poker machines is also increasing. In 2022-23, the number of people who contacted Gamblers Help increased by 33%. Four in five people who actively engaged with Gamblers Help and nominated a primary gambling activity mainly used poker machines. Our current approach to reducing gambling harm is not working.

Tasmanias lose half a million dollars a day in poker machines. Tasmanians who gamble on poker machines lose $3350 a year each on average. $189.6 million is how much Tasmanians lost in poker machines in 2022-23. 10% of Tasmanians report gambling on a poker machine in a 12-month period.

Poker machines are concentrated in disadvantaged communities

In June 2023, there were 3317 poker machines in 95 venues across Tasmania. However poker machines are concentrated in disadvantaged communities where per capita losses are also the highest.

The West Coast, the most socioeconomically disadvantaged Local Government Area (LGA), has 141 poker machines per 10,000 people and average annual losses of $427 per capita. In contrast Hobart, the most socioeconomically advantaged LGA, has only 24 poker machines per 10,000 people and average annual losses of $64 per capita.

A map showing the number of poker machine licences per capita by region in the state. In the Launceston and North East its 35 poker machines per 10,000 people. In the south its 23 poker machines per 10,000 people and it the North West its 64 poker machines per 10,000 people.

When people gamble more than they can afford, it harms everyone

Poker machines account for most gambling harm in Tasmania.  The harm is so significant that it impacts everyone in the community, even though you may not be aware of it.

The financial harms from gambling affect all Tasmanians.  When a person using a poker machine gambles money they don’t have, the money has to come from somewhere.  The diagram below shows how everyone pays.

The poker machine card is targeted at preventing people gambling more than they can afford.

Image showing who it financial impacts when someone experiences gambling harm. It impacts the household budget of loved ones, the friends and family who bail them out, the businesses who have upaid bills, community organisations who support them and the victims of any crime that they may do. The only positive financial impact is for the gambling industry.

Download the report ‘The poker machine card. Simple as.’ at the bottom of this page for full details on the harms currently being experienced in the Tasmanian community from poker machine gambling.

Four critical features that reduce harm

Various forms of pre-commitment have been introduced in jurisdictions around Australia and internationally, providing evidence that a well-designed system can prevent and reduce harm from using poker machines.

We have information about what works and what doesn’t. There are four critical features that must be part of a card system if it is to be effective in preventing and reducing gambling harm.

1. Binding pre-commitment with default loss limits

This means the person using a poker machine must set a binding limit on the amount of money they have prepaid and can afford to lose before they start gambling.

2. It applies to all gamblers

A system that does not require all gamblers to use it is unlikely to be effective at reducing gambling harm.

3. A single system across all venues

Research shows if the system applies to only some venues there is little reduction in gambling harm.

4. A single card per person

For pre-commitment to be effective in limiting losses (and harm), it is important that each person is registered in the system only once so that the system has accurate information about their spending on all poker machines.

An illustration of a hand holding a card that has the words 'Simple as' written on it.

Read the full report

Interested in reading more about the poker machine card?  Read the full report, ‘The poker machine card. Simple As.’

Drawing on the experiences of Anglicare Gamblers Help workers and clients, this report shows how the card will reduce the significant harm caused by poker machines.

‘The poker machine card. Simple As.’ looks at the government’s commitment to introduce a card-based system for poker machine gambling in Tasmania, how it will work, and the four critical features needed for the card to be effective.

It explains how this simple and reasonable measure will reduce harm from gambling and benefit all Tasmanians, including recreational users of poker machines.

Front cover of the SARC Report 'The poker machine card. Simple as.'


Download Report Pdf Download Report Word version