Drink service changes for Tasmanian pokie machines from May

Tasmanians will still be able to drink while playing at gaming machines, but will not be served alcohol under policy changes effective from May 1. 

Instead, patrons will have to leave the machine and purchase a drink themselves rather than having a drink brought to them.

The changes have been outlined in a review of the state’s Responsible Gambling Mandatory Code, overseen by the Tasmanian Liquor and Gaming Commission. 

Treasurer Peter Gutwein said the policy was designed to “break the cycle” of people sitting at gaming machines for long periods of time, but was made independent of the government and “entirely a matter for the commission”. 

On Saturday, Health Minister Michael Ferguson said the review was in-line with government policy. 

“It’s a decision made independently, but it’s very much consistent with the empowering that the commission has had to reduce harm minimisation measures,” he said.

“I think what it shows is that the policy environment is actually able to provide sensible, common sense measures that support the government’s belief that harm minimisation measures in regards to problem gambling is the way to go.”

Deputy Opposition Leader Michelle O'Byrne described the changes as “piecemeal”, and said it would make no significant impact to the issue of problem gambling.

“The initial report from the gaming commission outlined a number of changes that could be made,” she said.

“But you have to make a decision. Are you looking at harm minimisation, which recognises that harm stays forever, or are you saying we are actually going to eradicate harm as much as we can and that is by removing these machines from communities.

“That is what the government would do if it had any character, any guts or any courage.”

Consultation with the industry and other stakeholders was carried out by the commission last year, with the code of practice published on November 30.