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Experts on addiction and gambling odds today told the Parliamentary Committee on Future Gaming Markets that poker machines currently in use in Tasmania are neither fair nor provide an acceptable average return to players.

Public health expert at Monash University, Dr Charles Livingstone told the Committee the goal of poker machines is for people to “play to extinction”. “Pokies use repetitive but random reinforcements to addict people to the machines,” Dr Livingstone told the Committee, “The machines work like a scientific experiment on a lab rat that is conditioned to specific behaviour through the delivery of intermittent and unpredictable rewards.”

“Poker machines are dangerous and intentionally designed to bring about addiction,” said Dr Livingstone, “They have no place in community social spaces.”

Mr Caplice told the committee that the “Pokies odds and speed, when combined with addictive elements that trap players at the screen, mean that players will lose all their original bankroll, all the money that is returned by the legislated Return to Player plus any wins they pick up along the way”. He also describes Pokies as “a casino owners dream come true”.

Mr Caplice and Dr Livingstone made a joint submission with MONA owner David Walsh, who explained that it is the repetitive turning over of the punter’s money many, many times in to the machine that causes the regular player to lose everything. “Each positive move the community makes is handicapped by an undertow of a capital flow out of the community caused by the poker machines, and an intensification of social problems in the community,” Mr Walsh said in his submission.

“Poker machines are dangerous and intentionally designed to bring about addiction,” said Dr Livingstone, “They have no place in community social spaces.”

Mr Caplice believes that Electronic Gaming Machines without addictive elements, such as the machines used in Western Australia, should replace the current type of machine.