The Labor opposition party under Rebecca White finalized their stand on the issue of removing pokie machines from all clubs and pubs in Tasmania. The party has stated that they want all pokie machines out by 2023.
If Labor is elected in the upcoming March 2018 elections in Tasmania, the party promises that as part of its gambling policy, it will take out all pokie machines from clubs and pubs and only casinos will be allowed to have pokies. This move will result in 2,300 pokie machines being permanently removed from existing venues across Tasmania.
Stakeholders and operators of these venues have raised their concerns that removing pokie machines from their establishments would cost them their businesses.
To aid these establishments, Labor promises a $55 million package that will be used to help these businesses transition and invest in new products.
A Club Sustainability Fund of $5 million will be allocated to ensure key clubs in the state like RSLs can still continue to operate without pokie machines. Labor will budget $20 million to give transitional support to venues that will surrender their pokie machines prior to the target date of 2023. The policy is also allocating $25 million to provide long-term and low-interest loans to business who will have to reinvest in a new business model.
Labor has also put together a policy that will see sporting clubs get $500,000 in grants while an additional $500,000 will be allocated for business development advice. There is $4 million set aside that will be used for retraining staff and professional development to people who will be affected by the removal of the machines.
According to White, the Labor’s decision comes after the Tasmanian people made it clear that they want pokie machines out of their pubs and clubs. A poll published in September showed that 81 percent of people in Tasmanian Premier Will Hodgeman’s electorate voted to have pokie machines reduced or removed entirely from the state.
The Federal Group owns all of the pokie machines in Tasmania. The Liberals will be standing behind the Federal Group and the Tasmanian Hospitality Association who will collectively oppose Labor’s pokie machines policy.
The Liberals state that the drastic change in pokie machine policy will cause hundreds of jobs to be lost in Tasmania. Last year, Tasmanians put down over $110 million on pokie machines in pubs and clubs. White believes that recirculation of that money into the community could help create around 180 jobs across Tasmania.