Monday 2. November, 2015

Welfare Group Calls On Tasmanian Govt to Address Pokies Problem

A new coalition of fifteen welfare groups, which includes organisations such as Anglicare, the Tasmanian Council of Social Service and St Vincent de Paul, is pressuring the Tasmanian Government to limit poker machine losses with a view to start phasing them out of pubs and clubs. They are also addressing the issue of the Federal Group monopoly gambling license.

The Federal Group is awaiting a decision on the extension of its gambling monopoly until 2023 and if it is granted, is planning a $100 million investment into tourism development. In the meantime, $200 million is lost in Tasmania every year on poker machines.

The St Vincent de Paul Society works people who are struggling with poverty, poor health and family violence. According to Bernard Saunders, state secretary of the organisation, many families are in these situations due to the abundance of poker machines in pubs and clubs.

He described scenarios were families walk out of pubs or clubs with no money in their purse and no income for another fortnight and then are unable to feed their children or travel to medical appointments.

“We’ve got to do something about it… the Government is just starting to realise how much pressure is on them through the community.”

At the same time, the Tasmanian gaming watchdog is pressuring the Federal Government to crack down on online gambling, claiming it poses a risk to Australians because of its “unregulated or poorly regulated” environment.

It is not clear how much Tasmanian punters wager on online gambling annually, but the Tasmanian Gambling Commission reported that $2.9 million in online gambling taxes was collected. Despite this, the commission has expressed concern that the “Commonwealth Government has evinced no interest in regulation of internet gambling.”

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