Advocates want more Tassie pokies funds steered towards problem gambling help

by Mia Chapman Last Updated
Advocates want more Tassie pokies funds steered towards problem gambling help

There are fresh calls for the Tasmanian government to direct all of the funds from its new okies levy to fund services for problem gamblers.

ABC reports that in Tasmania, 50 per cent of the community support levy revenue goes to fund services for problem gamblers, 25 per cent goes to charitable organisations and 25 per cent is given in grants to sport and recreation clubs.

Under its future gaming market policy, the Tasmanian government plans to change the way community support levy funds are distributed after consulting with relevant stakeholders.

Anglicare Tasmania chief executive Chris Jones wants all of the CSL funding to go to problem gambling services.

“I think the community support levy is there to help people with problems when it comes to gambling,” he said.

“So I think all of the money should be spent that way.”

Anglicare seeks boost to problem gambling funds

The Tasmanian government contracts Anglicare Tasmania to provide support and treatment services for people with gambling problems.

At the very least, Mr Jones would like to see all the money from the government’s plan to increase the CSL rate for pubs from four to five per cent and impose a new three per cent levy on pokies in casinos to be exclusively allocated to problem gambling services.

“I think that gives us the opportunity to come up with new and innovative ways of responding to the Tasmanian community as together we seek to address problem gambling.”

Local MP critical of Glenorchy pokies strip

Former Glenorchy mayor and now independent MP for Clark Kristie Johnston’s electorate office is on Main Road in Glenorchy, dubbed the “golden mile” for the high losses on poker machines in hotels along the retail strip.

She said a large proportion of CSL revenue comes from problem gamblers.

“It’s not coming from operators, it’s coming from those people who are disadvantaged and are suffering as a result of a poker machine addiction,” she said.

Ms Johnston was mayor of Glenorchy when the council made a submission to the latest social and economic impacts study on gaming in Tasmania, arguing the distribution of CSL funds to sporting and recreation clubs was unfair.

“The city’s socio-economically challenged residents are cross subsidising undeniably good community services and one-off activities in other communities at the expense of their own high losses to poker machines,” the submission read.

“It’s a perverse outcome that we are getting people who are disadvantaged and highly disadvantaged because of their poker machine addiction to actually pay for community services,” Ms Johnston said.

“The range of different projects that are supported, even though they’re worthy projects, you don’t see the concentration of them in areas that are most affected by poker machines.”

Former gaming chairman supports levy changes

Former chairman of the Tasmanian Gaming and Liquor Commission Peter Hoult said the CSL was established in 1993 because community clubs were worried money they relied on for fundraising would be diverted to pokies.

“I would argue that the new money should be spent on problem gambling issues because that act of compensation back in 1993 has been done,” Mr Hoult said.

Mr Hoult said the change was also necessary because under the new single licence model, problem gambling rates could increase.

Federal Group currently holds the only licence for poker machines in Tasmania.

Under the government’s proposed changes, individual venues will hold licences for poker machines.

“There’s an increased likelihood of greater harm when you get independent operators competing for clients for poker machines and increased competition between them,” Mr Hoult said.

Mr Jones shares those fears.

“We’re concerned about what that means for the rate of problem gambling in Tasmania,” he said.

“Which is why the levy being increased is so important that it’s spent on protecting people in Tasmania from problem gambling.”

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