Last week, the Tasmanian arm of the Australian Labor Party (ALP) announced that if it were to win the March 2018 election, it would ensure that EGMs were removed from all pubs and clubs by 2023. The Tasmanian Hospitality Association came out against the policy when it was announced, stating that it would jeopardise a significant amount of jobs and adversely affect the industry.

The Gaming Technologies Association (GTA) have now also responded strongly to Labor’s proposed policy, calling it “an act of economic vandalism”.

Ross Ferrar, chief executive officer of the GTA, released the following statement:

“This policy is a disaster for the 3,000 Tasmanians who rely on jobs in the hospitality sector.

“The facts speak for themselves. Expenditure on poker machines in Tasmania has declined significantly in both real and per-capita terms since 2003 but still contributes $31 million to Tasmanian Government revenue.

“Labor’s policy creates a $31 million black hole in the Tasmanian budget, that can only mean cuts to essential services.

“Our Association is calling on the Tasmanian ALP to be honest and open with the Tasmanian people; which services does it propose to cut to pay for its promise?

“Electronic gaming machines in pubs and hotels are a legitimate and legal activity. The overwhelming majority of Tasmanian poker machine users are responsible gamblers.

“Removing poker machines from all hotels and clubs rides roughshod over their legitimate choices and those who enjoy poker machines responsibly.”

Ferrar continued, highlighting the highly regulatory nature of gaming in the state.

“Tasmania has one of the strictest regulatory environments for poker machines in the world. Regulators impose comprehensive conditions at every stage and on every aspect of poker machine design and operation.

“All poker machines operating in Tasmania are subject to stringent legislation, regulation and national standards which ensure that machines available for play in Tasmania are safe and enjoyable for consumers.

“The GTA strongly supports harm minimisation efforts, however, we do not believe banning our products is any more likely to assist problem gamblers, then alcohol prohibition would help problem drinkers.”

According to Australian Gambling Statistics 1990–91 to 2015–16, poker machines and Keno in hotels and clubs provided $31,514,000 in revenue for the Tasmanian Government, as part of $81,846,000 in total revenue produced by the Tasmanian gaming sector.

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