The Independent Member for Denison, Andrew Wilkie, has written to every household in Glenorchy urging the community to ramp up its fight against poker machines, and in particular to voice its concerns about the 20 additional machines proposed for the CBD.

Mr Wilkie will be available to discuss the 21,859 letters to be delivered next week to every house in the Glenorchy municipality. He’ll also call on the State Government to apply a moratorium to all new applications for poker machines – including this one – until it introduces promised new laws that include a public interest test.

The public only has until Tuesday 18 October to respond to an application to install 20 new poker machines in the Paddy Wagon Irish Pub in Glenorchy, a city that already suffers the highest pokies losses of anywhere in the State.

“The Glenorchy community is losing close to $2 million a month on the pokies, almost half of which is gouged from gambling addicts,” Mr Wilkie said. “The social and economic cost of this is enormous.

“The licensee of the new Irish pub in the former Glenorchy police station has applied to operate poker machines in the venue. In my opinion this is a very bad idea. The last thing Glenorchy needs is more poker machines.”

Mr Wilkie is urging people who don’t want more poker machines in Glenorchy to write to the Tasmanian Liquor and Gaming Commission, the Premier and other state parliamentarians.

Mr Wilkie said the Government must apply a moratorium to all new applications for poker machines until it finalised the public interest test.

“This application is supposed to be the first test of the public interest provision but we don’t even know what this involves,” Mr Wilkie said.

“What is in this public interest test? Applying laws retrospectively is putting the cart before the horse and could potentially open the state up to compensation claims. In the interest of good public policy the Government must write the public interest test first. You can’t protect the public interest retrospectively and undo the harm of poker machine addiction. Once the harm is done, it’s done.”

Mr Wilkie said it was already clear installing more poker machines in the community would not pass any credible public interest test.

“Polling shows four in five Tasmanians want poker machines reduced in number or removed entirely from pubs and clubs,’’ he said. “It was clearly a mistake 20 years ago to allow poker machines into the pubs and clubs because the evidence shows that increasing accessibility to gambling increases the likelihood of problems.

“According to the Tasmanian Government’s own figures employment in pubs and clubs fell after the introduction of poker machines. And while yes, the State Government does collect some $50 million in taxes and fees from the pokies, its 2011 Social and Economic Impact Study of Gambling in Tasmania puts the social and economic costs of problem gambling – including prison costs, bankruptcy, depression, violence and productivity loss – at up to $144 million every year.”

A copy of letter to Glenorchy residents is attached.

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