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Independent Member for Clark, Andrew Wilkie, says a once-in-a-lifetime chance to reduce the devastating harm caused by poker machines in the community has been squandered by the Tasmanian Government.

“This will surely go down in Tasmanian political history as one of the great missed opportunities of our generation,” Mr Wilkie said. “The Upper House MPs who unconscionably waved through these so-called reforms should hang their heads in shame.

“Given the chance to right the wrongs of the past, most Legislative Councillors instead followed the lead of the complicit major parties in the Lower House and jumped right back into bed with the poker machine barons.

“Federal has been handed a thumping great tax cut, the value of other poker machine venues will go through the roof when operators hold their own licences, and the Tasmanian people will forgo hundreds of millions of dollars in potential tax revenue that could have been put towards better hospitals and schools.

“Here we had a golden opportunity to put in place some workable, sensible harm-minimisation measures that would have made a massive difference to the lives of gambling addicts and their families. The human cost of gambling addiction is heartbreaking, including family breakdowns, financial ruin and lives lost to suicide.

“This certainly doesn’t auger well for those powerless to resist these insidious machines, which have been likened to the crack cocaine of gambling. But this is what happens when you let the poker machine industry write government policy in return for the darkest of political donations.”