Update: Pokies Licensing Legislation

The issue of poker machine harm in our communities is set to be raised in Parliament again in coming months.
The Liberal Party is expected to table legislation in the first sitting period of 2020 to extend licenses for poker machines to individual pubs and clubs, as well as licenses for the 2 existing casinos and options for 2 high roller casinos. The expected license period is 20 years. There will be changes to tax rates, which have not yet been made public. The Community Support Levy is expected to be charged on pokies in the casinos as well as the existing levy on pokies in pubs and clubs.
The Hon. Meg Webb, MLC, will make a speech in the Legislative Council on Tuesday 17 March in support of her motion (http://megwebb.com.au/project/poker-machine-licencing-motion-meg-webb-mlc/) that identifies the harm caused by pokies and calls on the Legislative Councillors to ensure social and economic modelling is carried out on the proposed new licensing arrangements.

This is likely our last significant opportunity for 20 years to influence how poker machines are licensed in Tasmania.
What can you do?
Some actions you can take in the lead up to 17 March include:

  • Emailing or writing to your local Legislative Counsellor, or all 15 members, explaining your concerns about pokies and calling on them to protect communities. Contact information for all Members of Parliament can be found here: http://www.parliament.tas.gov.au/Parliament/GeneralContacts.htm
    • Key points you may wish to include in your correspondence:
      • why your organisation cares about this issue (impact on clients, impact on local community). Anglicare’s pokiescauseharm website has information about each local Legislative Council area – the local member, number of poker machines, number of venues and the members’ views on poker machines, if known. Click on the interactive map.
      • how the Legislative Council can protect communities – best way would be to remove poker machines from the pubs and clubs in our communities. Next best would be to require the Community Interest Test (CiT) be applied to all licenses that are granted under the new legislation – that is, do not simply give licenses to venues who currently have the machines but require all venues to meet community expectations via the CiT.
      • what consumer protection measures are required – recommend:
        • bet limits are reduced from current $5 to $1 (this reduces the amount that can be lost per button push)
        • spin rates increased from 3 seconds to 6 seconds (this slows down the number of button pushes per hour)
        • require all machines to have mandatory pre-commitment (this means the person gambling cannot keep losing money beyond an amount that has been set before they arrived at the machine)
        • reduce opening hours for poker machine venues to maximum 12 hours per 24 hours
        • explicit duty of care required under the terms of the license (this would mean venue staff are required to intervene when they can see that someone is struggling with their gambling – similar to responsible service of alcohol where service is supposed to stop once someone is drink)
  • Attend the debate in the Legislative Council on Tuesday 17 March. All members of the public are welcome to attend Parliament during sittings.

If you have any questions or would like more information about the points above or the campaign, please contact Margie Law at M.Law@anglicare-tas.org.au