The leader of the Labor party in Tasmania, Rebecca White, has said that if the party was selected to State Government in the next election in March, they would have all EGMs removed from pubs and clubs by 2023.

Tasmanian Labor has promised that if they are elected, they will take action to remove gaming from pub and club offerings, including not extending the deed beyond 2023 to Federal Group that allows it to have EGMs in their venues. Federal Group is the only operator outside of casinos allowed EGMs in the state.

“The gaming deed with Federal Hotels clearly states that the earliest date notice can be given to vary arrangements is July 2018 – we have a once-in-a-generation chance to make the right decision and the right decision is to remove poker machines from our suburbs and towns and keep them in casinos,” stated White.

Labor is promising that as part of the move they will also offer pubs and clubs affected by the move a $50 million package over the five years. This includes:

  • $20 million transitional support for venues that choose to surrender their poker machines prior to 2023
  • A $25 million loan pool to provide long-term, low-interest loans to businesses transitioning to new business models
  • $500,000 in grants to sporting clubs
  • $500,000 in business development advice
  • $4 million for staff retraining and professional development

While backlash to the proposal includes the fear that pubs that offer gaming will be bankrupted by the move, White wanted to assure operators that this would not be the case.

“A Labor Government is ready to take a stand and that includes putting the welfare of people first while also providing genuine assistance to the workers, owners and operators of the 97 pubs and clubs in Tasmania with poker machines.

“There is no intention to see them close and there were similar claims made when smoking was banned in 2006 – venues did not close and a decade later the sector has never been stronger.”

Steve Old, general manager of the Tasmanian Hospitality Association, was unequivocal in his opinion of Labor’s promise.

“This Labor policy will see a huge number of jobs in Tasmania lost, both direct and indirect. It will lead to a stop in infrastructure upgrades and development of product which is important for the tourism industry in the state and the impacts especially on regional Tasmania will be dramatic.

Old says that venue operators are very worried about the Labor policy.

“Venues with gaming are telling me that this policy would see the value of their pubs in Tasmania drastically decline and put many of their businesses and venues at risk of potential closure.

“It would be a sad day for jobs and the economy in our state if this policy was to be implemented by Labor.”

Australian Hotelier has reached out to Federal Group for comment, who had not responded by the time of publication.

Vanessa Cavasinni

Vanessa Cavasinni is the managing editor of Australian Hotelier and Club Management, trade publications for the pub and club sectors respectively. Vanessa has been at the helm of Australian Hotelier since...

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