By Clyde Mooney
In pursuit of his primary election pledge, Tasmanian independent MP Andrew Wilkie continues to threaten consequences for the Gillard government, despite diminishing support for his gambling reforms.
The Victorian and newly-elected NSW governments are both opposed to the national scheme, which threatens the billion dollar plus revenue they receive each year from gambling.
The Treasury concedes that gambling tax revenues will be greatly affected.
Clubs Australia lead a strong contingent of licensed premises looking for blood and pushing for a voluntary-based scheme.
It says that casual gamblers, who make up 98 percent of people playing poker machines, will be put off by a need to register, carry a card and pre-set a limit.
Prof. Alex Blaszczynski, head of Sydney University’s gambling treatment unit, questions how the system will stop problem gamblers from simply increasing their limit.
He believes the Productivity Commission’s report was ‘based on the absence of effective research or evidence base’.
Fellow independent MP Tony Windsor has also expressed his concerns, citing the impact on licensees in his electorate.
This contradicts Wilkie’s statement that the independents are behind him, and may threaten the very existence of the Gillard Government.
Wilkie last week threatened to force a new election if his reforms, scheduled for 2014, are not implemented.
Clubs with gambling facilities derive an average of 61 percent of their revenue from gambling, with most of that from poker machines.
The potential revenue losses could make many venues unviable and lead to job losses.
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