TASMANIA'S peak welfare organisation says gambling reform legislation tabled in the Federal Parliament yesterday was a positive but very small step in the right direction.
Tasmanian Council of Social Service chief executive Tony Reidy said he supported any move towards a better control of gambling but that the government's reforms - which include a $250 a day withdrawal limit from automatic teller machines in gaming venues excluding casinos, and introducing a system whereby poker machine users can set a limit on the amount they are prepared to lose - did not go anywhere near far enough.
``We continue to maintain our position that the $1 bet limit is the right way to go,'' he said.
The government introduced the legislation, after gaining the support of the Australian Greens, decided the reforms were better than nothing and negotiated funding for a national gambling research institute.
Denison independent MHR Andrew Wilkie, who was angered when Prime Minister Julia Gillard reneged on a stronger package of reforms agreed to after the election, also said the reforms were better than nothing and worth supporting.
Mr Reidy said more than 2500 Tasmanians had a gambling problem.
``And studies are very clear that for every one person with a gambling problem, between five and 10 people are affected,'' he said.
He said he welcomed the funding for the research institute, which will consider the $1 bet limit.
``We think it's only a matter of time (before the limit is introduced),'' he said.
Figures released by the Tasmanian Gaming Commission yesterday showed Tasmanians lost almost $16 million in September, taking the total losses since January to almost $134 million.
Tasmanian Greens gaming spokesman Kim Booth said strong measures to prevent problem gambling were needed.
``The Greens support a $1 bet limit, plain packaging and local government control for pokies and mandatory precommitment, as temporary measures leading to an eventual ban,'' he said.
``Although this figure is down from the same period last year, it is still $16 million lost and another 16 million reasons why we should rid the scourge of pokies from the community.''