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Poker machines out of pubs and clubs in five years under Majority Labor Government

  • Deed allowing poker machines in pubs and clubs will not be extended beyond 2023
  • $50 million on the table to allow pubs and clubs to transition
  • Poker machine removal will have widespread benefits for health of communities
  • Last chance for gaming reform under Labor’s proposal as Hodgman fails to act

A re-elected Majority Labor Government will act to remove poker machines from Tasmanian pubs and clubs over the next five years.

Last financial year Tasmanians lost $110 million on poker machines in pubs and clubs – money that could be better spent in our communities supporting small business and families.

A report by economics professor John Mangan shows that if just half of those losses from poker machines were diverted to other parts of the economy, more than 180 full time jobs would be created.

The harmful impacts of poker machine gambling are widespread. They affect an individual’s health, their family, relationships and work. For every person who is harmed by their own gambling, seven other people are affected.

Labor Leader Rebecca White said after extensive consultation with more than 70 pubs and clubs as well as key stakeholders throughout the state, Labor is committed to removing poker machines from pubs and clubs and will give notice to Federal Hotels that the current deed allowing poker machines in venues other than casinos will not be extended beyond 2023.

Ms White said this will give venues with poker machines five years to voluntarily retire machines early and move to new business models under a package of up to $55  million to help pubs and clubs transition.

“The gaming deed with Federal Hotels clearly states that the earliest date notice can be given to vary arrangements is July 2018 – we have a once-in-a-generation chance to make the right decision and the right decision is to remove poker machines from our suburbs and towns and keep them in casinos,” Ms White said.

“The Liberals are not willing to make this decision, which is the right one for the economy and the right decision for Tasmanians.

“The Liberals simplistically think a reduction of the cap by just 150 will ease people’s suffering, when the vast majority of these machines aren’t even in use.

“Labor will remove all 2,375 poker machines from pubs and clubs.

“Since the report of the Parliamentary Inquiry into Future Gaming Markets was handed down, we have consulted widely with the pubs and clubs as well as peak organisations.”

A package of up to $55 million will be offered to help with the transition over five years, including:

  • $20 million transitional support for venues that choose to surrender their poker machines prior to 2023
  • A $25 million loan pool to provide long term, low-interest loans to businesses transitioning to new business models
  • $500,000 in grants to sporting clubs
  • $500,000 in business development advice
  • $4 million for staff retraining and professional development

In addition to the $50 million transition package, Labor will also establish a Club Sustainability Fund of $5 million for clubs to access beyond 2023 to ensure important clubs, like RSLs, can continue to provide services to their community.

The Social and Economic Impact Study of Gaming In Tasmania identified that there are around 8,000 Tasmanians considered to be problem and moderate risk gamblers.

While the Liquor and Gaming annual report detailed that Tasmanians lost $110 million on poker machines in pubs and clubs in 2016-17, the SEIS report estimated the social costs of problem gambling are between $37 million to $184 million each year.

Ms White said health remains Labor’s number one priority, with a strong focus on preventative health, including the serious health issue of gaming addiction.

“A Labor Government is ready to take a stand and that includes putting the welfare of people first while also providing genuine assistance to the workers, owners and operators of the 97 pubs and clubs in Tasmania with poker machines.

“There is no intention to see them close and there were similar claims made when smoking was banned in 2006 – venues did not close and a decade later the sector has never been stronger.

“Research shows more than 80 per cent of Tasmanians want poker machines out of pubs and clubs – I have listened, Labor has listened and we are ready to do the right thing.”

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