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Federal Group’s stranglehold in Tasmania set to end

Fri, Mar 22, 9:22am by Staff Writer

The Federal Group’s monopoly on poker machine licenses in Tasmania could soon be over, with the state government expected to table legislation next year to end their reign.

The Examiner is reporting that Tasmanian treasurer Peter Gutwein said the government had recently writer to the Federal Group “to advise them of our intention to end the current exclusivity arrangements through the legislation that will be tabled from early next year to give effect to our policy and put in place a new framework fro 30 June, 2023.”

“By ending the current arrangements through legislation, rather than by notice under the Feed, we will ensure that the industry has the certainty to continue to invest and employ until the new gaming framework is in place for the industry post 2023,” he said.

“The Future Gaming project team was established last year and has been undertaking comprehensive financial analysis of the current industry and the impact of various tax and license settings on industry participants – this work is complex and ongoing.”

“The Government will shortly be engaging with relevant stakeholders as we deliver our commitment.”

The Federal Group arrived in Tasmania in 1968 when the state was struggling with debt.

Greg Farrell Sr, the chairman of the Federal Group ran a public campaign to reassure locals that a casino in Tasmania would be more than a hotel and gaming den and would put Tasmania on the map.

Wrest Point the nation’s first casino

Wrest Point Hotel Casino was opened on 10 February 1973 and was Australia’s first legal casino.

Wrest Point has more than 650 poker machines and 269 hotel rooms.

Under the current government’s policy, from 2023 hotels and clubs would be allowed to hold individual licenses for poker machines.

Greens leader Casey O’Connor said the government’s policy was “a catastrophic deal for Tasmania.”

“There is no question it will entrench social harm in disadvantaged communities until 2043,” Ms O’Connor said. “It will cost lives.”

Ms O’Connor said Labor had 12 months to decide whether to decide to stick with their election policy to ban poker machines in pubs and clubs.

Last November, hundreds of Tasmanian casino workers campaigned for an increase in pay after they rejected the company’s offer of a two per cent a year increase over three years.

Employees at Wrest Point Casino and Launceston Country Club voted down the proposed increase in January, arguing it would not keep pace with cost of living expenses.

The casinos operators the Federal Group have said staff at its casinos, “are already paid well above union standards.”

Their union, United Voice, said it was also resisting the push by Federal Group to remove some redundancy provisions and reduce casino roster cycles from four week to two.

“Stripping back the roster cycle to two weeks means people can’t plan what they’ll be doing for the next 14 days,” United Voice’s Jessica Sanders said in a letter to members.

The lynchpin of the Farrell family’s profitability in recent times has been its exclusive rights to operate gaming machines in Tasmania.

This arrangement is set to expire in 2023, with financial statements offering little insight into the company’s direction after this time.

The statements say: “Further information about likely developments in the operators of the consolidated entity … has not been included in this report because disclosure of the information would be likely to result in unreasonable prejudice to the consolidated entity.”

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