Today in Parliament, I asked the Premier if he would support a reduction in the maximum bet per spin on poker machines, from the current $5 per spin to $1 a spin.
Such a reform is almost universally supported by gambling reformers and researchers in Australia. I noted that a parliamentary committee in 2012, of which both he and the now Deputy Premier were members, supported the reform.
Today, however, he ruled it out, turning his back on the most vulnerable people in our community. He relied on data that suggests a marginal drop in gaming machine activity. Really? He quotes figures from recent Social and Economic Impact Studies into gaming, but the estimates of the prevalence of gambling over time used by these studies is seen by many researchers as being problematic and based on misleading indicators.
The Premier needs to get out more and have a look around our pubs and clubs: there are thousands of often socially disadvantaged Tasmanians ruining their and their loved ones’ lives on poker machines. The Premier is welcome to join me on a tour of the horrendous pokie dens in my electorate is he wants a dose of reality. Just in Glenorchy, $2 million is lost every month on these machines.
This simple reform would have no effect on recreational players. Let’s be clear: it is only problem gamblers, overwhelmingly, who want to pump upwards of $600 every hour into poker machines.
It is frustrating to me and many Tasmanians that lives are ruined and even lost because of these dangerous, addictive machines. Dropping the betting limit to $1 is a simple measure that could be adopted almost immediately without any effect on the entertainment value of poker machines.
We saw the Labor Party fold on poker machine reform after a barrage of lobbying and paid advertising from the gaming barons prior to the 2018 Tasmanian election. It seems that the Liberal Party is similarly captured by this appalling industry whose business model relies on the misery of gambling addicts.