Future of Tasmanian gambling outlined in government policy

by Noah Taylor Last Updated
Tasmanian political parties stay put on gambling policies

A Tasmanian government gambling policy has left stakeholders concerned, a new report revealed.

The Examiner reports that the Tasmanian government’s future gaming policy proposed limiting the number of pokie machines in the state at 2350, creating individual licences for hotels and clubs.

It also allows for two “high-roller” casino licences, tenders the monitoring of the gaming industry and proposes to adjust how profits from the machines are distributed.

Since 2003, a portion of the profit made from the machines, as well as licensing fees, has gone to a Community Support Levy.

The levy pool funds and dispenses them across charitable organisations, aimed at gambling harm minimisation.

That portion has been four per cent of monthly gross profits.

The new proposal has this increasing to five per cent from pubs, four per cent from clubs and extending the payment to casinos, who would contribute three per cent.

Currently, the legislation requires the government to sanction a social and economic report on the impact of gambling every three years.

The proposed legislation changes the time frame to five years.

Submissions to the consultation paper were released on Monday and revealed where concerned parties sat regarding the issue.

Sixty-eight submissions were received regarding the proposed changes to gambling legislation, with 73.5 per cent supporting the changes, but 46 submissions from hotel and club operators established a theme that those operators were happy with the changes.

Twelve submissions rejected the proposed government policy on grounds of lacking harm minimisation, lacking scope to react to social and economic impacts and suggesting all poker machine owners contribute five per cent to the Community Support Levy.

There were wide ranging concerns about the reforms suggestion to grant 20-year licences for the machines, with debates of granting them for perpetuity or setting a future date for them to be reviewed.

Nelson Independent MLC Meg Webb made a comprehensive 22-page submission outlining her concerns and questions regarding the policy.

Ms Webb suggested there was “no modelling or evidence of the likely social and economic impacts of this licensing model and regulatory framework” across concerned industries, the community and the economy.

“The government has ignored, without justification, best practice harm minimisation recommendations from the Tasmanian Liquor and Gaming Commission.

Operators support government’s proposed changes

The government continues to ignore the evidence based, best practice harm minimisation recommendations from the TLGC.”

The Empire Hotel in Queenstown supported the policy changes, with its submission written by the hotel’s parent company, Norton Hospitality Group.

“This will ensure a fair and consistent playing field and create a safer and more sustainable Gaming Industry in Tasmania if the many challenges and restrictions currently face are addressed in the process,” they wrote.

The group also said harm minimisation support resources needed to be extended for counselling providers.

The Glenorchy City Council, a region where $20 million was fed into 270 poker machines in 2014-15, detailed how the region had been affected by the proliferation of pokies.

“There are around 1380 people in the City of Glenorchy who have some form of addiction to poker machines.

“There are fathers, mothers, sons and daughters, people whose addictions result in dire consequences for their families, friends, loved ones and the community,” they wrote.

The council proposed pokies be removed from all Tasmanian pubs and clubs.

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