Social services groups respond to proposed Tassie pokies changes
Proposed new gaming legislation in Tasmania has been criticised by social services groups who say the changes don’t address the social impact gambling has on the community.
The Examiner reports that the proposed legislation would see an end to the monopoly on electronic gaming machines held by the Federal Group, and allow venues to independently operate gaming licences.
The new gaming legislation in Tasmania would also see an increase in the community tax levy from eight per cent to 12 per cent across all venues.
TasCOSS chief executive Adrienne Picone said how the levy will benefit the community is unclear and more clarity is required.
“We need greater transparency about what these rates, levies and taxes mean, and ultimately who benefits from the revenue,” she said.
New legislation doesn’t tackle heart of problem: Meg Webb
Ms Picone also questioned why the community support levy was higher for clubs and pubs at four and five per cent respectively, compared to the three per cent imposed on casinos.
She said electronic gaming machines in hotels and clubs were concentrated in lower socio-economic areas and it was these communities that will suffer the most harm.
Nelson independent MLC Meg Webb was also critical of the proposal and said changes did not address the issues the machines have on the community.
“What we know is that poker machines are a product that is designed to be addictive, and at least one in six people that use them on a regular basis will become addicted to them,” she said.
“That’s a process that then causes great harm in that person’s life because it tends to deplete all their financial resources, it impacts on their relationships, on their employment, on their health, their mental wellbeing and can ultimately affect their life very substantially.”
“It not only affects them, it affects the people around them.
“Research tells us that for every person who’s got a problem gambling on poker machines, there are five to 10 people around them who are also suffering a negative impact from that.”
Ms Picone said when the legislation is tabled in Parliament in late 2021, appropriate safeguards must be put in place to protect at-risk and problem gamblers.
“TasCOSS and the community services industry reiterate calls to make poker machines asfer through a range of initiatives, including $1 bet limits, slower spin speeds, removing losses-disguised-as-wins and smaller jackpots,” she said.
A Labor spokesman said it was still reviewing the document and would respond accordingly.
Federal Group to take hit from proposed new pokies laws
The Federal Group will be almost $25 million worse off under the long-awaited move to break up its grip on the state’s gambling licences.
An increase in the Keno tax rate at pubs and clubs will cost the group a further $5.28 million, but an almost 12 percentage point decrease in casino poker machine tax rate somewhat cushions the blow, with the Tasmanian government projecting it will boost its annual revenue by an extra $11.2 million.
Overall, the changes mean Federal Group’s annual revenue will drop from $108.75 million in the 2018-19 financial year to $84.07 million in future financial years, according to projections.
The annual Social and Economic Impact Study, tabled in the Tasmanian Parliament in early July, found 47 per cent of adults gambled in 2020, down from 58 per cent in 2017.
The report found Tasmanians spent an average of $773 on gaming in 2020, which was the lowest per capita spend in Australia.