Tasmanian gambling losses soared in in 2020-21 as coronavirus-driven movement restrictions within the state eased and the turbocharged JobSeeker payment was distributed.
Total losses from gaming machines and Keno at pubs and clubs increased by nearly half compared with the previous year, when the pandemic hit the state economy the hardest.
Losses on pokies at pubs and clubs increased from $79.5 million in 2019-20 to $117.3 million in 2020-21, according to Tasmanian Liquor and Gaming Commission figures.
Keno losses surged from $25.6 million to $38.3 million, with total losses from both types of gambling increasing from $105.1 million to $155.6 million.
And it was not just a matter of "back to normal".
Total losses were also about $18 million more than the $137.4 million lost in the pre-pandemic year of 2018-19.
It was a similar story at the casinos.
Pokies losses at casinos of $74.7 million were well ahead of 2019-20 ($50.8 million) and some way ahead of 2018-19 ($67.3 million), despite international and interstate visitor numbers being much lower in the most recent year than they were before the pandemic.
Liquor and Gaming Commission chair Jenny Cranston said minimising harm from gambling was a significant focus for the commission.
"This has been particularly important in the period following the reopening of gambling venues in June 2020 with the easing of COVID-19 public health restrictions," she said.
"During this time, the commission observed high levels of player expenditure on electronic gaming machines, which significantly exceeded player levels for prior comparative periods.
"It was particularly concerning that this increase continued for many months.
"Licence holders were reminded to be vigilant in ensuring that harm minimisation measures were in force to protect potentially vulnerable people during this difficult time."
The state government collected $107.6 million from taxing gambling in 2020-21, up from $83.6 million in the previous year and $83.5 million in the year before that.
Licence fees and penalties netted a further $2.2 million in the most recent year.
Both casinos were penalised during the year.
Australian National Hotels (Wrest Point) was fined $16,800 for allowing a gaming machine to be played while it did not function how it was designed and programmed and $14,670 for failing to restrict access to cash.
The Country Club Casino was fined $9780 for failing to restrict access to cash and received a letter of censure over another matter.
Various licensed premises holding gaming licences were fined or censured, while two special employees were fined for playing keno during a shift and 170 special employees' licences were suspended for not attending an approved responsible conduct of gambling course.
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