Recently released data from the Government shows that monthly poker machine losses reached new highs for July 2022.
“The total loss across the state for last month was $17.1 million, a figure we haven’t seen in Tasmania since the end of COVID lockdown in mid 2020,” Ms Johnston said.
“The state-wide loss in June was $14.8 million, so the July spike means an extra $2.3 million taken out of Tasmanian households.
“The city of Glenorchy, which is within my constituency of Clark, showed a loss close to $2 million, up from $1.8 million in June, the highest of all municipalities in the state.
“I’m not sure how I feel: disappointed, frustrated, angry. Most of all angry that both major political parties, Labor and Liberal, continue to be entirely comfortable in encouraging addiction in their communities.
“The parties have, in effect, legalised a highly addictive drug with practically no commitment to addressing or minimising the consequences of that addiction.
Ms Johnston said that poker machines act just like other addictive drugs, which makes their reform a health imperative, above all else. They have been described by experts as the “crack cocaine” of gambling. Scientists have demonstrated that the machines are designed to increase the production of dopamine which elicits a physical response from players when playing the machines.
“The so-called gambling harm minimisation measures the Government is considering, such as a system to allow players to set limits on losses, will only play around the edges of reform. The only real and lasting way to reduce losses is to make the machines themselves less dangerous, by reducing the maximum bet per spin from five dollars to one dollar, slowing the spin speed down to at least six seconds, and to set the jackpot limit at $1,000 instead of the current $25,000.
“But the interstate poker machine barons won’t have a bar of these measures as it will stem the rivers of gold that flow into their pockets. The sad reality of the gaming machine industry is that its business model relies on creating and then retaining problem gamblers. And how successful have they been.