The Australia Institute think tank has published a report, according to which, reopening poker machines, also known as pokies, would negatively affect the state of Tasmania.
The information follows a call by Meg Webb, an independent MLC from Nelson, who urged the state’s authorities to put off the reopening of poker machines until further evaluation of the actual impact of the machines’ closure during the coronavirus outbreak. The report of the Australia Institute has been unveiled after Premier Peter Gutwein confirmed that casinos and gaming rooms would be permitted to reopen from noon today.
In the latest report of the think tank, information was unveiled that only 17% of the licensed venues in the state of Tasmania were gambling venues, and only about 19% of their staff work directly in gambling roles. According to the report, non-gambling operations of such venues create more labour activity to the business’ staff than customers who spend the same amount into pokies offered in the same businesses’ premises. The information included in the Australian Institute’s report showed that customer spending in the local economy of services and goods other than gambling, and particularly pokies, has a higher return rate when it comes to job creation.
Poker Machine Participation Rates Expected to Rise in Tasmania After Reopening of Gambling Venues
The think tank warned in its latest report that provided Tasmania’s budget and the economic and social impact of the coronavirus outbreak and the following closures of most businesses in the state, the reopening of pokies would be a net financial burden to the state.
According to the information provided in the Australian Institute’s report, the costs of pokie-related gambling addiction to residents of Tasmania was estimated at about AU$153.3 million. This amount was far bigger than the tax and fee revenue generated by the electronic gaming terminals of AU$48.7 million that was generated last year.
A local charity organisation that offers a help service for problem gamblers and currently supports about 120 customers and their families, Anglicare Tasmania, was unable to present concrete evidence to back its expectations that the number of people, who would need some help to overcome their addiction to pokies once the venues reopen, is set to increase. The organisation’s general manager explained that he was unable to predict the exact impact of the poker machines reopening but there would surely be risks for people who find it hard to control their gambling habits.
The reopening of the gambling venues in Tasmania after the lengthy coronavirus shutdown is expected to make local people gamble more, so some experts anticipate that the poker machine participation rates would climb in the following weeks. Moreover, the trend is expected to affect people across all age groups, social demographics and gender.