Pokies are fleecing low-income Tasmanians with the support of the Liberals and Labor, Tasmanian Greens Leader Cassy O'Connor says.
Seething about recent state legislation which did not deliver much of what pokies opponents wanted, Ms O'Connor backed up her arguments with figures from the Tasmanian Liquor and Gaming Commission's recent annual report which showed money lost on pokies surged in 2020-21 compared with coronavirus-affected 2019-2020 and with the "normal" financial years preceding it.
"The Liberals claim poker machine gambling is on the decrease, but losses are up," Ms O'Connor said.
"So, fewer gambling addicts are losing more money.
"That's what you call a perverse outcome.
"Almost $200 million spent on the pokies over the year is money that isn't going into household budgets - for rent, food and sending children to school - and it certainly isn't supporting small businesses.
"Tragically, this fleecing of low-income Tasmanians has the support of both the Liberal and Labor parties."
The Liquor and Gaming report showed losses on pokies in Tasmanian pubs and clubs increased from $104.3 million in 2018-19 to $117.3 million in 2020-21, split by a much lower figure in the pandemic-hit financial year between them.
A further $74.7 million was lost on pokies in Tasmanian casinos in the most recent financial year, up from $67.3 million in 2018-19 despite the absence of most interstate and overseas visitors due to border restrictions in the more recent financial year.
"The amount lost to pokies in the last financial year has increased significantly on the pre-pandemic years," Ms O'Connor said.
"The Treasury annual report is clear about the vast sums of money coming out of the pockets of some of our poorest people and into the hands of the Farrell family (the owners of the Federal Group which owns the casinos and whose long-running monopoly on pokies in Tasmania will end in mid-2023 under the recent legislative changes).
"The tales of human misery were told in parliament during the long debate on poker machines, and these sobering figures back that up.
"These are parasitic machines that suck money from those who can least afford it."
Liquor and Gaming chair Jenny Cranston said player expenditure (losses) had significantly exceeded losses in previous comparative periods after gaming venues reopened in June 2020 as coronavirus restrictions eased.
She said the increase continued for many months.
State Development Minister Michael Ferguson on November 24 said: "The Future Gaming Market policy ends the Federal Group monopoly and means we have more money for essential services such as health and education, certainty and security for jobs in pubs and clubs, more support for problem gamblers and less for the Federal Group."
"Once again, our state is nation-leading in the area of gambling harm minimisation, with strengthened measures to further reduce problem gambling.
"As part of the government's approach, I will soon instruct the Tasmanian Liquor and Gaming Commission to give advice on potential options to implement a smart card-based identification system to enable setting limits on gaming losses in advance.
"This holds potential to play a major role in harm minimisation, especially for problem gamblers."
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