Sunday 21. February, 2016

Tasmanian Government to Offer Policy Position on Gambling Monopoly within 6 Weeks

The Tasmanian Government has announced that it will reveal its policy position extending the pokie operation monopoly of the Federal Group. Its position will be revealed within six weeks, despite the fact that the current contract will continue until the end of 2018.

The current monopoly that the Federal Group enjoys, allows it to control all poker machines in the state, which provides around 40 percent of the company’s profits. The government is collecting advice from numerous fronts, including from the Treasury, after which it will call for public consultation.

This issue is significant for the Federal Group and they previously announced that their planned $70 million refurbishment of the Wrest Point Casino was contingent on the extension of their monopoly.

The original deal with the Federal Group was signed in 2003 by the Bacon Labor Government; however the current Labor leader Bryan Green said that circumstances have changed enough to warrant reconsidering the situation.

“The circumstances were completely different back then to what they are now,” Green stated.

“There’s more investment going on within Tasmania; at that time we were looking for high-end investment in our state; that’s how we ended up with Sapphire on the East Coast.”

Independent MP Andrew Wilkie said that he was concerned that the government was considering advice from the Treasury.

“The Treasury is fundamentally conflicted here because they see poker machines as a source of revenue, the Government really needs to be taking much broader advice.”

However, Mr Green has assured that the Labor Party does not yet have a “position with respect to the tendering of gaming licenses.”

Mr Wilkie is pushing for any new deals to include harm minimisation strategies such as “$1 maximum bets and mandatory pre-commitment technology” and Treasurer Peter Gutwein has assured that these measures will be considered.

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