The UK decision to cap pokie bets puts pressure on Tasmania

SLAVE TO THE MACHINE: The pokies have taken over as the most popular form of gambling. *** Local Caption *** POKIE MACHINE
SLAVE TO THE MACHINE: The pokies have taken over as the most popular form of gambling. *** Local Caption *** POKIE MACHINE

A UK decision to cap poker machine bets will put pressure on Tasmania’s Legislative Council to block the government’s gaming reforms, a Tasmanian MP says.

Denison Independent MP Andrew Wilkie welcomed the UK’s decision to drop the cap on poker machine bets from £100 to £2.

He said it placed pressure on all governments to follow suit.

“Many people in Tasmania have been campaigning for many years to cap poker machine bets at $1,” Mr Wilkie said.

“The UK decision will help us to reinvigorate the debate here in Tasmania on poker machine reform.

“The pressure’s now on the Legislative Council to block those reforms. And I think it will be easier for them to take a stand when they hear news like this out of London.”

Mr Wilkie said in 2010 the Productivity Commission’s main recommendation was to cap poker machines at $1 and he hoped both the Australian and Tasmanian governments would now act.

“What the Tasmanian government should do is sit up and pay attention and follow the British government’s lead to cap poker machine bets, in Tasmania’s case, to $1,” he said.

The Alliance for Gambling Reform also called on Australian states and territories to follow the UK move and reduce maximum bets.

Mr Wilkie said the UK had less poker machines than Australia but they had decided they were a serious enough problem to cap poker machine bets.

“Yet in Australia, where we have many more poker machines, where they penetrate the suburbs much more deeply, where the harm’s so much greater, Australian governments won’t do what the British government’s done,” he said.

Mr Wilkie said the focus during the state election was on Labor’s gaming policy when the Liberal’s policy was “significant.”

The state government plans to introduce a gaming industry model that would grant poker machine licences individually to pubs and clubs – a position first advanced by the industry itself.