Sunday 26. June, 2016

Wilkie Turns Again to ACCC Over Tasmanian Gaming Monopoly

Federal Tasmanian Independent MP and anti-gambling activist, Andrew Wilkie, has made a referral to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) for a second time asking them to investigate the state’s gambling monopoly.

The Federal Group has a monopoly to operate poker machines in Tasmania with an exclusive license until 2023. Their long-standing license was extended by the state’s Labor Government in 2003. While the state has announced plans to break their monopoly, this would not happen until 2023.

Wilkie’s previous referral to the ACCC to investigate the situation was rejected as the competition’s watchdog stated that since the government is not a business, this issue falls outside their scope.

Mr Wilkie is now arguing that since the government owns entities that operate poker machines and therefore profits from them, particularly TT-Line which operates poker machines on its Spirit of Tasmania ferries and its Devonport hotel which operates poker machines, they should be considered a business and should be investigated by the watchdog.

There can be no doubt the Tasmanian government is operating a business; I mean it owns the TT-Line and the TT-Line operates 60 to 65 poker machines,” argued Wilkie.

“This is so clearly now in the jurisdiction of the ACCC I think it will be extremely hard for the ACCC now to not look into.”

He continued that the “community or the taxpayers has been ripped off, but also it’s anti-competitive.”

Treasurer Peter Gutwein said that Mr Wilkie’s arguments have not concerned the government and they view this move simply as an election stunt.

“We have no concerns around these matters,” assured Gutwein.

“This is just a pre-election stunt by Mr Wilkie and any engagement with the ACCC is a matter for him.”

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