The Tasmanian Gaming Association (TGA) representing the video gaming industry cautiously welcomed the methodology if not the findings of the Felmingham Report into forestry subsidies.
The TGA is keen to differentiate their industry from the wider tourism industry which Dr Felmingham found to have received on average, $92.3 million in Government subsidies each year over the 5 year study period ending 2007/08.
For each $1 in subsidy received the tourism industry was estimated to produce only $15 value to the State’s economy, a ‘bang for buck’ of 15, compared to 56 for the forestry and 167 for mining and minerals.
A spokesman for TGA said only 1% or $923,000, of the subsidies paid to the tourism industry each year could be attributed to its industry.
In 2007/08 the turnover of TGA’s members totalled $2 billion, but the value added by the industry was $214 million. This is easily measured by the money left behind by players as reported to the Tasmanian Gaming Commission, which was then disbursed to the State Government ($54m), hotels and venues ($70m) with the balance to Federal Hotels.
With only an estimated $923,000 worth of Government subsidies, TGA claim a ‘bang for buck’ (BB) of 232 putting the industry well ahead of second place getter, the mining industry.
On the question of whether the value of the license originally granted to Federal Hotels represented a form of subsidy, TGA’s spokesman was full of praise for Dr Felmingham for the deft way he included only direct Government payments in his calculation of the subsidy amount.
“Ivory tower economists claim the poker machine license had a value in excess of $100 million, and that granting the license in the way it was done, amounted to a subsidy to the operator. But it wasn’t like that. It was a business deal. The Government granted the licence in return for Federal Hotels agreeing to build a resort at Coles Bay. Which Mr Farrell assures me will occur, one day”, TGA’s spokesman said.
“Rather than being subsidised, our industry is prevented from expanding by the cap on poker machine numbers”.
TGA’s spokesman pre-empted the question of whether the value added by an industry was a valid measure of the worth of an industry, by stating,
“I know what you’re going to say. Yes, there are problem gamblers but the payments to the Community Support Levy fully offset any costs incurred by the community.
In fact we at TGA believe that our industry has an even higher BB than 214 if one were to include the ‘value added’ by counsellors and divorce lawyers.
Following Dr Felmingham’s groundbreaking analysis, we at TGA have already drafted a few conclusions for an industry position paper.
We are hoping the learned Professor will oblige with a suitable preamble, which can then be used to lobby Government to attract more assistance for our neglected industry.”
TGA’s sister organisation, the Hookers and Call Girls Association (HCGA) have also welcomed the Felmingham Report.
Spokesperson Heidi said “The report confirms what we’ve been saying for years. Our industry is a valuable contributor to the State’s economy. All added value is without hardly any Government assistance. We at HCGA estimate our industry’s BB at 500 or even 1,000.
Acknowledging that the lack of hard ABS data may have inhibited their negotiations with Government to secure a better deal, Heidi said,” (w)e are trying to reform. One of our members registered for GST the other day. We are slowly straightening out our affairs. Outside the boudoir anyway.”
“With Dr Felmingham’s guidance we will hopefully be making a submission to the State Government for assistance”. Heidi said. “In Dr Felmingham’s words, our members can certainly offer more bangs for bucks.”