The Tasmanian Labor Party has announced that they will implement a policy of removing poker machines from pubs and clubs if they are re-elected in March. This is the first move by a major party at the state level to reform the pokies, which have become a regular and overpowering fixture in pubs across the nation.
Labor had been consulting with community and the industry after the release of the report of the Parliamentary Joint Select Committee on Future Gaming Markets. Labor leader Rebecca White announced the new policy this morning.
The Liberal Government in Tassie had committed to a five percent reduction in poker machines in the state, to a total of 3,680, whereas the Greens wanted them to be totally gone from pubs and clubs. It seems Labor has sided with the Greens on this one.
The plan means that 2,375 machines will be gone by 2023, with the remaining 1,200 in Tasmania’s casinos only.
To assist, Labor has announced a package to assist businesses in transitioning to new non-pokies forms of revenue generation. This includes transitional support for businesses who choose to surrender their poker machines prior to 2023 and a $25 million loan pool to provide low-interest loans to affected businesses.
This is a pretty massive move, and will not only define the Tasmanian election but also represents a throwing down of the gauntlet for states with far more poker machines and much more powerful lobbies – looking at you, New South Wales.