Phasing Out Poker Machines: What Does It Mean For The State’s Finances?

Removing poker machines from pubs and clubs will have widespread benefits for the health of communities, which far outweigh the relatively minor impact on the state budget.

In total a package up to $55 million will be provided to support pubs and clubs transition. Prior to 2023 Labor will quarantine $5 million a year from gaming tax revenue to fund the transition package. This represents only around 0.08 per cent of the annual State Budget.

The balance of $25 million will be drawn from the existing Tasmania Development and Resources loan fund.

A further $5 million will be allocated after 2023 to the Clubs Sustainability Fund.

The Department of Treasury and Finance has modelled the impact on the state’s taxation revenue of phasing out poker machines from pubs and clubs, assuming some people will transfer their gambling to the casinos.

The Government’s own studies estimate problem gambling costs the economy between $50 million and $144 million a year including healthcare and counselling costs, crime and other social impacts.

Under the median impact scenario modelled by Treasury & Finance Tasmanians would reduce their losses on poker machines by $62.1 million a year.

That would see a reduction in the state’s taxation revenue of approximately $14 million in the first year that the policy takes full effect.

Even the Premier, Will Hodgman, has rejected the notion that poker machine revenues are essential to the state budget.

“That is not to demean or diminish the size of the returns, but in the scheme of things, about 1 per cent of the state budget could not seriously be described as a government being dependent upon gaming returns.”

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