`Get rid of pokies'

CURFEWS should be imposed on gaming venues until poker machines can be phased out completely, Tasmania's largest community service provider has urged the new government.

In its submission to a $1.2 million review of the effectiveness of harm minimisation strategies in Tasmania, Anglicare Tasmania has declared the only solution to a devastating public health problem is to get rid of pokies. 

It is calling on the government not to renew its agreement with Federal Group, which owns all of the state's 3572 pokies, when it expires in four years.

Other recommendations include:

-Force hotel and club gambling venues to close by 10pm until poker machines are phased out.

-Ban inducements that include ``free money'' for gambling.

-Prohibit the service of food and alcohol to someone at a poker machine at any time of day.

-Introduce a pre-commitment system for poker machines.

-Remove sounds from poker machines.

Anglicare Tasmania chief executive Dr Chris Jones said the recommendations were based on clear requests from 52 people affected by problem gambling who were consulted as part of preparing its submission. 

``Gamblers Help clients tell our workers that the gambling environment, including advertising, inducements, player loyalty schemes and venue inducements (gambling and non-gambling) encourage them to gamble.''

Dr Jones said it was clear gambling problems escalated in Tasmania after the government introduced the machines into local hotels and clubs in 1997 by massively increasing accessibility and changing the social focus of communities.

Consultant ACIL Allen is conducting the third social and economic impact study into gambling in Tasmania and is due to hand its final report to the government in November.

Since the second study in 2012, the first mandatory code of practice for the industry has come into full effect. 

Other changes since then include reducing the maximum bet limit per spin for poker machines from $10 to $5, reducing the maximum number of lines that can be played on poker machines from 50 to 30, and reducing the cash input limit for poker machines to $500.

Two submissions have been received so far, but the deadline has been extended from last Friday to allow some organisations more time.


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