By Vanessa Cavasinni, editor Australian Hotelier
The Parliament of Tasmania has released the findings of its inquiry into gaming in the state.
The Future Gaming Markets Report was to assess the future of gaming in Tasmania after 2023. The chairman of the committee, the Hon. Mike Gaffney, MLC, stated that while the reasons for introducing gaming into hotels and clubs in the state in the 90s were positive, since then the view on gaming has changed.
“The introduction of…Electronic Gaming Machines (EGMs) into hotels and clubs in the 90s was promoted as potentially making a positive financial contribution to a somewhat stagnant Tasmanian Economy. However, evidence suggests that in today’s economy, the contribution of the “Gaming Sector” makes far less impact overall to the State revenue, especially in comparison with other jurisdictions.
“However, after considering testimony from social organisations, community groups and those affected by problem gambling, it must also be recognised that the impacts of gambling, especially EGMs, for some individuals, family members and the wider community can be exceptionally damaging.”
With 150 submissions made to the committee from industry and community stakeholders, the committee debated a recommendation to remove all EGMs from the state, however it “failed to gain support from the majority”.
Twenty-three recommendations were made, including:
- The Government adopt strategies to facilitate the reduction of a significant number of EGMs from Tasmanian Hotels and Clubs by the 1st of July 2023.
- The Government work actively with communities that are concerned with the density of EGMs in their local area to enable voluntary mechanisms to reduce the number of EGMs.
- EGM licences are not issued in perpetuity.
- The Community Service Levy (CSL) be extended to apply to EGMs in casinos.
- The Federal Group retain licenses to operate their two existing casinos.
- If the casino licence is to be exclusive it should not be in perpetuity. The annual licence fee should be reassessed and should reflect the value/worth of the licence if it was to be put on the open market.
The committee also recommended that a progressive tax be introduced for EGMs in hotels and clubs, but that the government identify options for those hotels and clubs to maintain profitability if it was introduced.
The Tasmanian Hotel Association (THA), welcomed the release of the Future Gaming Markets report, and will now consult with member on the findings.
“The THA, who as part of their structure in Tasmania, represent the interests of members who have gaming machines in the state and on behalf of these members, wishes to thank the committee for their hard work and time in producing their findings.
“The THA will provide the report to its gaming members and seek their feedback before making any further comment.
The THA will continue to work with political parties in Tasmania who seek to work with operators to reduce harm for individual players while also protecting jobs and investment in the industry and state.”