Australia’s gaming landscape could be set for a major shift with Tasmania’s opposition party announcing it would ban slot machines from pubs and clubs in the Australian state if it wins next year’s state election.
In a shock announcement on Wednesday, Tasmanian Labor leader Rebecca White said it planned to give notice to Federal Group – which has a monopoly on Tasmania’s slot machines – that the current deed allowing poker machines in venues other than casinos will not be extended beyond 2023. Such a move would see around 2,300 slot machines removed.
“The harmful impacts of poker machine gambling are widespread,” White said.
“They affect an individual’s health, their family, relationships and work. For every person who is harmed by their own gambling, seven other people are affected.
“We have a once in a generation chance to make the right decision and the right decision is to remove poker machines from our suburbs and towns and keep them in casinos.
“The Liberals are not willing to make this decision, which is the right one for the economy and the right decision for Tasmanians.”
Tasmania is home to Australia’s first casino, Wrest Point, which opened on 10 February 1973. The casino would be exempt from the plan.
Under Labor’s policy, venues affected by the removal of machines would receive part of an AU$55 million assistance package including an AU$5 million club sustainability fund for licensed clubs such as RSLs and Leagues Clubs.
The package would also comprise:
– An AU$25 million loan pool to provide low interest loans for businesses shifting away from the highly profitable machines to a new business model
– AU$20 million in transitional support for any venues that surrender their machines before 2023
– AU$4 million for staff retraining and professional development
– AU$500,000 in sporting club grants
– AU$500,000 worth of business development advice
The announcement follows a recent parliamentary inquiry which showed that AU$110 million was lost on slot machines – better known as poker machines locally – in Tasmania in the last financial year.
Western Australia is the only Australian state where slot machines are not permitted outside of casinos.
The issue has been a hot topic in recent years due to the sheer volume of machines operating around the country, which currently sits at around 200,000.
A recent report by the Australia Institute showed that Australia was home to 76% of the world’s slot machines located outside of casinos.
Were the state Labor party to be voted in next year and its initiative implemented it would place enormous pressure on other states to follow suit. In total, the Australian slot machine industry is worth more than AU$12 billion annually.