Video poker machines are creating trouble in Tasmania once again. Commonly known as pokies, these machines are highly addictive and are found in non-gambling establishments like restaurants and bars as well. The Labor Party in Tasmania is feeling the burn associated with these machines as their leader Rebecca White is being accused of backtracking.
White was previously against the pokies but has since changed her stance. The Labor Party was earlier pushing for the removal of these machines from clubs and pubs. But after the losing the elections in March 2018, they don’t appear eager to follow up with their plans. Will Hodgman, the current premier of the state, is busy in negotiations related to new licenses for thee machines. The new deal is set to be in place till 2043.
Hodgman also went on to criticize White for backtracking on her stance. However, theories suggest that she could be doing so because of her fellow party members. Hodgman also noted that White has a passionate interest in the pokies as it was a concern, she believed in. Now, she has abandoned her policy position and is asking the premier to rush through the policy that she was opposing during the election.
It is not just Hodgman commenting on the changed perspective. Several party members and supporters are also unhappy with the change. White did not change her stance right after the elections. At the time she noted that she would continue to fight against the pokies. However, the Labor leader has a different view now. The Green Party are now finding it an adequate reason to bash Labor and White. People are asking if the Labor Party could be trusted and taken seriously upon assuming power post the 2022 elections if they cannot stick with their opposition to gambling.
Video poker machines are being operated under a monopoly held by the Federal Group. The Liberal Party is aiming to end this monopoly and decrease the number of machines outside of casinos sharply. Tasmania is home to 2,375 pokie machines, but they have slowly started to lose their relevance because of the growing popularity of online gambling.
Even as physical gambling establishments are becoming less popular, policies are still bringing major revenue for Australia. However, pokies were also responsible for a record $2.7 billion loss faced by Victorians last year. The previous loss for the region was only $58 million. Many are now raising their voice to create new rules for these machines, following the approach of the UK to limit the maximum bets on fixed odds betting terminals to 2 pounds.
Alliance of Gambling Reform’s director Tim Costello said that the new 20-year pokies licenses issues in Australia 14 months ago have already made the citizens suffer their biggest gambling losses in history. He said that the major parties should be “ashamed of themselves” for paving the way for these licenses.