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Satire: Ted Mead

Cartoon: Leunig, used with permission ...

First published Feb 21

The Independent Member for Denison, Andrew Wilkie, is releasing further data on poker machine losses at Tasmania’s hotels and clubs.

This Treasury data has until now never been publicly released.

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“When I revealed the most 20 harmful poker machine venues earlier this month, Tasmanians were quite rightly shocked,” Mr Wilkie said.

“Now that this more detailed data is out there for all to see, it paints an even grimmer picture of just how much money is sucked out of communities and lost in these venues. And it confirms that big business is the big winner from gambling addiction because the same names pop up over and over again.

“Even pubs with apparently small totals have a significant impact, simply because they draw their losses from a small community.

“I’m releasing this data because it’s in the public interest and Tasmanians have a right to know how much is being taken from their local community by poker machines. Just think of what this $113 million could do for these communities if it wasn’t going into the pockets of the pokies barons.

“It’s not good enough for the poker machine industry to try and discredit the figures by saying they don’t know where they come from, because they know full well how much the venues harvest and the fact that these figures are accurate. To try and say otherwise would be a bold-faced lie.

“We know that poker machines cause incredible harm in the community including suicide, crime, childhood poverty and domestic violence. The only solution is to get the machines out of the suburbs.”

*Andrew Wilkie is the Independent Tasmanian MP for Denison in the House of Representatives

Tim Costello

Anglicare Media Liaison and Communications Bronwen Hayes:

‘A warning for Tasmania’

Tasmanians have been urged to prioritise local people and the local economy, rather than fall for exaggerated industry claims about the benefits of poker machines.

Tim Costello is one of the nation’s leading advocates on poker machine reform.

“Whatever the election outcome, things are set to dramatically change in relation to the level of harm caused by poker machines in Tasmania,” said Revd Costello. “This state is about to set a course - not for the next few years, but for decades to come”.

Revd Costello said the Liberal plan would see pokies ownership move to an even more dangerous and competitive venue-owned model.

“If that happens, this state needs to be prepared for a potential move by a ruthless pokies operator like Woolworths to swoop in and become the state’s biggest operator, like it is in Victoria, South Australia, NSW and Queensland”. Woolworths already has a foothold in Tasmania, with five venues in the state.

Revd Costello said the Victorian experience had shown that competitive licensing was a recipe for disaster. “Tasmania’s gambling landscape would fundamentally shift and there’d be no turning back,” he said.

“The more a bidder pays for a licence to operate a pokies venue, the more money they want to take out of that community. It also means that even more powerful vested interests get involved in your state’s affairs – with all the negative consequences that go with that”.

Tim Costello, who attended a public forum in the North West region last night, urged Tasmanians to see through industry’s threats and exaggerated claims.

“As expected, we’ve heard all sorts of ridiculous figures being thrown about,” he said. “The reality is that poker machines are sucking millions of dollars out of this state. The negative effects also cost Tasmania in relation to people’s health, family breakdown, crime and suicide.

“If you want to support local businesses and jobs, then take this opportunity to get poker machines out of hotels and clubs,” said Revd Costello. “Make the most of what’s special about your state, including the sense of community. People don’t come to this state to play poker machines”.

“Tasmania is ready to see the money being lost to poker machine redirected into local spending. Most importantly, this State can choose to dramatically reduce the harm poker machines cause to people. 40% of the revenue from poker machines is from people with a gambling addiction. Tasmanians know there are far better, more creative and ethical ways to do business”.

Alliance for Gambling Reform

The Pokies Play You ...

Tim Costello welcomes pokies reform in SA, Tasmania

The Alliance for Gambling Reform’s spokesman and director Tim Costello today completed a three day tour of South Australia and Tasmania supporting long-overdue pokies reform required to end Australia’s notorious status as the world’s most gambling addicted nation.

Speaking in Launceston today, Mr Costello backed the proposal to remove pokies from Tasmanian pubs and clubs in 2023, a position The Alliance first took when Tasmanian Labor announced its trail-blazing policy last year.

Mr Costello engaged in a 30 minute debate (listen to full 19 minutes conducted on air, with Tasmania’s most pro-pokies journalist, Grant Broadcasting’s Northern Tasmania presenter Brian Carlton, this morning and made the following points:

# As the recent Australia Institute study revealed, Australia has 76% of the world’s pokies in pubs and clubs as most countries recognise the danger of mixing alcohol with addictive pokies at venues which are not exclusively focused on gambling services;

# Removing pokies from pubs and clubs will create jobs because pokies are a job-killer requiring just 3 jobs for each $1 million of community spending, compared with 20 jobs for $1 million of spending in a restaurant.

# Australia’s biggest pokies operator Woolworths – which pockets almost $2 billion of the $13 billion in national pokies losses - is poised to swoop on more Tasmanian venues if the Government introduces their venue-owned model which would deliver a valuation windfall of between $150 million and $250 million to the existing venues when their share of pokies profits rise from 30% to 50%.

# Mainland interests, supported by the likes Sydney-raised ex 2GB presenter Brian Carlton, are attempting to influence the election with big money advertising, a deluge of political donations and misleading claims;

# There are 400 gambling-related suicides in Australia each year and he has done many funerals for those entrapped in a gambling addiction or suffering mental health issues associated with severe gambling harm;

# When it comes to political capture, the pokies industry is Australia’s blind spot for out-sized influence, just like the NRA in the United States. The US has the world’s worst gun-related crime and Australia’s has the world’s worst per capita gambling losses.

Mr Costello attended the pokies forum hosted by The Advocate newspaper in Ulverstone on Tuesday night and held a press conference in Launceston this morning where he called on Premier Will Hodgman to formally withdraw and apologise for promoting the industry scare campaign claiming 5000 pokies jobs were at risk.

“The Conversation’s Fact Check service has today declared this jobs claim is a serious exaggeration and Mr Hodgman and his Treasurer Peter Gutwein should publically accept they were misleading Tasmanians,” Mr Costello said.

“Indeed, there is a strong argument that Mr Gutwein, a former publican, should not have responsibility for gaming given the obvious conflict of interest as the Treasurer looking to maximise state revenue.”
Mr Costello also welcomed today’s release of full 2015-16 venue loss data by Tasmanian independent Federal MP Andrew Wilkie and called on South Australia’s Independent Gambling Regulator to do likewise.

On Monday, Mr Costello was in Adelaide for the launch of the SA Best pokies policy which proposes significant reforms such as $1 maximum bets, a 50% cut in hotel pokies numbers and conversion of perpetual licences to 7 years with a view to complete removal in 2026.

“The SA Best policy is evidenced based, and would result in a very large reduction in gambling harm from poker machines and online gambling,” Mr Costello said. “Policies such as $1 bets and removing EFTPOS machines from venues would have an immediate reduction in gambling harm and set an example for NSW and Victoria where machine numbers are much larger and these policies urgently needed.”

“The shift from perpetual licenses to a 7 year license is significant. Perpetual licenses prevent the community from having a say about how many licenses there should be, and who can hold them. The policy explicitly requires any new licenses to go to a Parliamentary vote and is designed to make this an election issue in 2022, giving South Australians the option of not creating any new licenses for pubs and clubs.”

Mr Costello also welcomed the Greens policy in both Tasmania and South Australia which supports the complete removal of pokies from pubs and clubs within 5 years.

The Alliance will later today release a policy update focusing on South Australia and Tasmania.

ABC: Pokies are big money in Tasmania — election campaign shows just how contentious they are

Greens: Liberals Plundering Protected Areas, Underfunding Parks

Andrew Wilkie: Yet another grubby Liberal Party pokies secret ... The Independent Member for Denison, Andrew Wilkie, will join Monash University’s Dr Charles Livingstone ( ) and author and historian Dr James Boyce ( ) to condemn the Liberal Party’s poker machine policy, which will see the industry benefit to the tune of $250 million. “Make no mistake – the Liberal Party’s poker machine policy isn’t to keep the status quo,” Mr Wilkie said. “Not only will it entrench poker machines in hotels and clubs for decades, but it will in effect hand the poker machine industry an enormous $250 million windfall … ”

UTG: Call for more ethical principles in politics - UTG releases A New Ethic … “It is very clear in today’s politics that the political parties do not adhere to any sets of principles – they act according to expediency or what they think will appeal to the media for that day. It is not even clear, for example, what the philosophical issues are concerning the poker machines. If ‘pokies’ are a social problem then, given that 2,300 problem gamblers* in Tasmanian indulge in four or more types of gambling then why isn’t all gambling the focus for reform?” “If the issue is the dominant control of pokies by one organisation or family, then that is another issue,” Dr. Holloway said …

Alliance for Gambling Reform: Broken promise: Crown and Packer fail to lift transparency game

The Conversation: FactCheck: are ‘around 5,000 jobs’ at risk if pokies are removed from pubs and clubs in Tasmania? … The Conversation contacted Tasmanian Premier Will Hodgman’s office to request sources and comment to support the claim, but did not receive a response. Nonetheless, we can test the statement against publicly available data. The claim promoted by the Tasmanian Liberal Party that “around 5,000 jobs are at risk if electronic gaming machines are removed from pubs and clubs” is an exaggeration – and a significant one. Finding precise employment figures for the gambling industry is difficult. But data recently released by the Tasmanian Government Department of Treasury and Finance estimated that in 2017, there were 370 full time equivalent jobs related to poker machines and keno in hotels and clubs in Tasmania. Even when we consider that the number of people employed would be higher than an estimated 370, because some people work part time, the claim that a change in legislation would place “around 5,000 jobs” at risk is a significant overstatement