Fifty new poker machines in Tasmania – odds are they will be dumped in Glenorchy

Independent Federal Member for Clark, Andrew Wilkie, will demand the State Government come clean on where the 50 new poker machines will be dumped as part of its sweetheart deal with the gambling industry. Mr Wilkie will also unveil his Poker Machine Community Protection Plan detailing the harm-minimisation measures that state politicians must insist are included in any changes to poker machine regulation.

The Government is preparing legislation that will virtually give away poker machines licences worth an estimated $350m and hand a tax cut to the state’s biggest pokies baron Federal Group. Its proposed new cap of 2350 will allow 50 additional machines in Tasmanian pubs and clubs.

“The question is where will these machines go?” Mr Wilkie said. “My bet is right here in Glenorchy, where the industry makes the most money. The industry is just waiting for this legislation to go through before it rolls out these extra machines.”

Mr Wilkie said the Elwick Hotel, owned by Federal’s Vantage Group, is ground zero for poker machine losses in Tasmania and each machine there takes almost $150,000 a year from the local community.

“Another 50 machines harvesting this kind of money adds up to $7.5 million,” he said. “That is money taken off the dinner tables of local families and money not spent in local businesses. That’s $7.5 million flowing out of the community and into the pockets of the poker-machine industry.”

Mr Wilkie said Glenorchy, a city that already suffers the state’s highest losses, does not want new machines.

“We saw this in 2016 when the community mobilised to fight off applications for 20 new poker machines at The Moonah Hotel (The Pot) and 20 new machines at the Paddy Wagon hotel in Glenorchy,” he said.

“What we are witnessing is legalised corruption. The Government is handing a thank-you cheque to the industry that bankrolled its election win.”

Mr Wilkie said the legislation, due to be dealt with this year, must include the measures in his Poker Machine Community Protection Plan including slower spins, $1 maximum bets, tougher fines for venues that flout the rules and the removal of addictive features from poker machines.

“I’m calling on all state politicians to clearly state their position on the Plan and to insist on the measures when the Government’s changes come before the parliament,” he said.

“Ideally the State Parliament would show some integrity and reject the Government’s changes in full. But if it won’t, it should at least insist on real and effective harm-minimisation measures. The Government’s poker machine legislation provides this opportunity.

“Poker machines are a dangerous product. Just like seat-belt and drink-driving laws made driving safer, we need to make operating a poker machine safer.”

Skills

Posted on

January 30, 2020

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