`Too early' for debate over pokies

THE owner of Tasmania's 3500 poker machines says it is too early to discuss what will happen when its licence expires in four years.

Anglicare Tasmania has called for pokies to be phased out and the deal between the state government and Federal Group not to be renewed.

The recommendations are contained in its submission to the third social and economic impact study into gambling in Tasmania.

Federal Group declined to respond to Anglicare's comments yesterday, but plans to make a submission to the state government-commissioned review.

A company spokesman said he would not speculate on the future of its agreement with the government.

More than $1 billion has been poured into Tasmanian poker machines during the past five years.

In February alone $14.5 million was spent on poker machines.

However, in November last year Federal Group reported a $13 million loss in revenue from its two casinos' pokies and a 14 per cent drop in earnings from pokies in pubs and clubs.

At the time, the loss was blamed on the Tasmanian Gaming Commission's strict new mandatory code of practice.

The code forced venues to introduce more harm minimisation strategies such as restrictions on the advertising of gambling products, customer loyalty programs and access to cash.

The effectiveness of these measures will be assessed by the study being conducted by consultants ACIL Allen.

Anglicare Tasmania has welcomed the new mandatory code as a big improvement on the voluntary code but maintained the only real solution was to get rid of pokies.

"Phasing the machines out of the suburbs would dramatically reduce accessibility to poker machines as well as provide greater control over interventions and exclusions," the submission stated.

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