The Independent Member for Denison, Andrew Wilkie, will comment on the release of the report of the Joint Select Committee on Future Gaming Markets about the future of poker machines in Tasmania.

“This report is bizarre because it does not recommend removing all poker machines from Tasmanian hotels and clubs, or fitting effective harm minimisation measures to the remaining machines,” Mr Wilkie said.

“It’s a scandal that the poker machine industry hurts so many people. It’s a scandal that the Liberal and Labor parties refuse to do anything about it while pocketing big fat donations from the industry. And it’s a scandal that the committee has decided that all of this is largely okay.

“The report reads like it was written by the hotels association and Federal Group. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to get poker machines out of the community and they’ve squibbed it.

“The test is now on the Government to act, stop kowtowing to Federal Group and the hotels, and put in place a genuine plan to get these machines out of hotels and clubs. They must not hide behind this report as an excuse to continue to do nothing while poker machines inflict untold damage on the community.

“Recent polling shows that four out of five Tasmanians either want poker machines gone or at least the number reduced. But the fact that, so far, the Government’s refused to listen to their own voters – and the many experts who made submissions to the inquiry – is absolutely appalling and proof that they couldn’t care less about gambling addiction.

“And until the Labor Party stops equivocating and comes out with a serious policy that addresses the enormous harm caused by poker machine gambling addiction, they are just as bad as the Government. In fact their track record on poker machines shows that they’re even worse.

“What the major parties don’t understand is that gambling addiction is an epidemic. People are losing their life savings, their family and friends and tragically even taking their own lives. What’s more we know that 40 per cent of problem gamblers use poker machines.

“If the Government and the Opposition drop the ball and don’t act now, future generations will forever judge them as those who knew about the scale of gambling addiction but did absolutely nothing to address it.”

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