Tasmanians lose at pokies as regulator issues breach notices

by Mia Chapman Last Updated
Tasmanian political parties stay put on gambling policies

Tasmanians have lost more than $2.6 million to pokies machines in the last five days of June, as the machines were once again turned on following the COVID-19 shutdown.

The Examiner reports Tasmanian gamblers have also been barred from using various forms of cashless technology to play the pokies.

Venues are unable to accept bank deposits or electronic funds transfers and similar digital payments for gambling purposes under a measure introduced by the Tasmanian Liquor and Gaming Commission.

State Treasury’s Liquor and Gaming branch said the commission made the decision among amendments to its mandatory code of practice, which took effect on March 1.

‘This amendment ensures customers are only able to access additional funds through typical withdrawal methods, such as ATMs and EFTPOS, which have cash limits,” Liquor and Gaming said.

Greens Hotel in Burnie was fined $336 for allowing people to remain on licensed premises when unauthorised to do so and $840 for selling liquor, except as authorised.

The MODE Bar and NiteClub in Launceston was fined $815 for allowing people to remain on licensed premises when unauthorised to do so.

The Mobius Lounge Bar in Hobart had conditions imposed on its out of hours permit and hours reduced following what Liquor and Gaming said was the sale and consumption of liquor in the licensed premises causing disorderly conduct in the premises and in its neighbourhood.

Three people received letters of censure for playing keno at the venues where they were employed.

Two men had their licenses suspended for playing keno at the venues where they were employed and extending credit to themselves.

UBET Tasmanian received a letter of censure over radio advertisements without the required anti-gambling message.

Australian National Hotels, which operates Wrest Point Hotel Casino and is part of the Federal Group, received a letter of censure over a non-member using a premium player program ATM.

TAB closes retail outlet in Tasmania

A Tasmanian betting agency will close its brick-and-mortar outlet, in another sign that online and pub betting is the way forward.

Burnie’s TAB agency, in the state’s north, will permanently close.

A Tabcorp spokesman said the business is continually assessing its network on a commercial basis and in light of the change in customer preferences towards online wagering and wagering in social environments such as pubs and clubs, the venue will close.

“As a result of this, we make decisions on closing agencies in some areas and opening outlets in others, and that process has continued throughout the current COVID-19 shutdown,” the spokesman said.

“We are closing the Burnie TAB agency on this basis.”

Two long-serving casual workers will lose their jobs.

“We can confirm both employees will be provided with redundancy payments according to the agreement, along with career transition assistance and other support,” the spokesman said.

“Our outlets at the Beach Hotel and Burnie Club will reopen once we have approval from the Tasmanian government to resume trading.”

A state government spokesperson said TAB agencies were currently closed because of coronavirus restrictions.

“Under the staged lifting of restrictions, the reopening of the agencies remains under consideration as we regularly review the lifting of restrictions,” they said.

“Any decisions outside of the COVID-19 restrictions to permanently close an agency are a commercial matter for TabCorp.”

It was not clear if any other TAB agencies in Tasmania were in the gun.

Roy Morgan Research has detected a strong increase in the use of betting apps.

“It is interesting to note that with the ease of betting on a phone due to the rapid growth of betting apps that over a quarter of people who have a bet now do so on a mobile phone, compared to only 5.3 per cent six years ago,” Morgan industry communications director Norman Morris said.

The Morgan report suggested the proportion of Australians aged 18 and over who gambled in an average three-month period declined from 64.7 per cent in December 2018 to 47.9 per cent in December 2018.

Morgan said there had been declines in all major types of gambling, including lottery and scratch tickets, poker machines and betting.

TAB takes coronavirus hammering

Australia’s largest online gambling company, Tabcorp, has taken a battering from the cancellation of major sporting events and the shutdown licenced venues and TAB agencies where many of its client’s punt.

Business News Australia reported in April that new and obscure sport betting options like Belarusian Premier League and Tajikistan men’s basketball have been unable to compensate for loss of revenue that would normally come from the world’s most popular competitions in Australia and around the world.

The state of affairs led to the group temporarily standing down more than 700 employees to 30 June in businesses where there is no work due to coronavirus-related closures.

A further 160 technology contractors have also been let go, representing a cut of 40 per cent.

Business-as-usual expenditure for the current half is expected to be down by a quarter at around $120 million and Tabcorp has expanded its banking facilities through an additional $226 million short-term facility payable in mid-2021.

Managing director and TAB chief executive David Attenborough has also taken a 20 per cent fixed remuneration pay cut until the end of the financial year.

“This continues to be a very challenging time for our people, businesses, partners and the community,” says Mr Attenborough.

“We are committed to working proactively and collaboratively with all our stakeholders so that we can collectively emerge from the coronavirus period as strongly as possible.”

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