Why the Pokies need to go
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For the first time since 2003 Tasmanians can have a say on whether poker machines stay in local pubs and clubs, or are restricted to the casinos.
Here is why it’s important. Tasmanians are losing a staggering $200 million a year on the pokies, about half of which is lost on machines located in our community, mostly in poorer areas.
Poker machines cause harm – Take action! Visit www.pokiescauseharm.org.au to join the campaign.
There is considerable evidence regarding the harm caused by poker machines to individuals, their family and friends, and the community as a whole.
Experts agree that they are deliberately designed to addict people, tapping into similar parts of the brain as drugs such as cocaine. Poker machines are also effectively rigged to favour the ‘House’ so that players are guaranteed to lose over a period of play. In terms of hard facts and figures regarding the harm poker machines cause in Tasmania:
- Tasmanians lose approximately $200 million a year betting on poker machines, of which about half is lost to machines in local pubs and clubs.
- About 2,500 Tasmanians have a serious problem with gambling on poker machines, and account for approximately a third of annual poker machine losses. We believe this number to be an underestimate given the significant stigma associated with disclosing an addiction to poker machine gambling.
- For each person who is harmed by gambling, there are likely 5-10 other people in their lives affected. Poker machine addiction damages the health of those affected particularly through stress; and causes family breakdown, financial stress, poverty, job loss and homelessness.
- The ripple effect of poker machine harm is such that one in three Tasmanians identifies as personally knowing someone experiencing serious problems with poker machine gambling.
We have mapped losses to poker machines in every local government area in Tasmania. Click to see how much your community is losing.
Tasmanians don’t want poker machines in community venues.
Tasmanians have been united and consistent in their views on poker machines in their communities. Every poll since 2003 has shown the same result:
- Four out of five Tasmanians do not agree that the community has benefitted from poker machines; and
- Four out of five Tasmanians want poker machines either reduced or completely removed from local pubs and clubs.
A question of values over insignificant revenue
The Tasmanian Government is not reliant on poker machine revenue. Tax collected from poker machines located outside of the casinos is around just $30 million a year. In fact the Tasmanian Treasurer himself has said that policy will be guided by community views, not revenue considerations.
The $100 million lost annually by Tasmanians in local poker machines is money foregone from circulation through local businesses for entertainment, services, and goods. Of Tasmania’s more than 30,000 small businesses, less than 100 have poker machines installed
Removing poker machines from local pubs and clubs is a decision that should be taken on public health grounds, and an adjustment program or other forms of assistance to affected venues is feasible. It is worth recalling that Tasmania banned smoking in pubs and clubs as a public health response, and fears that Tasmania’s pub scene would collapse when the bans were introduced proved unfounded.
We are calling on the Tasmanian Parliament to make a principled decision – that it will not accept revenue raising from activities that we know cause tremendous harm and suffering to our community.
The history of poker machines in Tasmania
Poker machines were introduced into Tasmania in 1993 into Wrest Point Casino. In 1997 without any community consultation, the government allowed poker machines to be installed in venues outside casinos. This was a monopoly license agreement between the State Government and casino operators, Federal Hotels.
In 2003, again without consultation, this monopoly was extended for fifteen years.
In 2018 this monopoly Deed with Federal Hotels will expire. Accordingly the Hodgman Government has begun an inquiry via a parliamentary Joint Select Committee into aspects of poker machine licensing in Tasmania.
This is the year for Tasmanians to show our elected representatives that we want change.
If you wish for more detailed information please see here or contact Meg Webb, Manager, Social Action and Research Centre (Anglicare Tasmania) on 0427 911 719.