Pokies cause harm. Sign the letter. Get poker machines out of Tasmania's pubs and clubs

Why we need the pokies to go

For the first time since 2003 Tasmanians can have a say on whether poker machines stay in local pubs and clubs, or are restricted to the casinos.

Tasmanians are losing a staggering $200 million a year on the pokies, about half of which is lost on machines located in our community, mostly in poorer areas. Pokies cause harm to our communities and take money out of the state that would otherwise be spent on local businesses. 

View our interactive map to see how much is lost in your area.



Pokies cause harm

There is considerable evidence regarding the harm caused by poker machines to individuals, their family and friends, and the community as a whole.

Experts agree that they are deliberately designed to addict people, tapping into similar parts of the brain as drugs such as cocaine. Poker machines are also effectively rigged to favour the ‘House’ so that players are guaranteed to lose over a period of play. 

  • Tasmanians lose approximately $200 million a year betting on poker machines, of which about half is lost to machines in local pubs and clubs.
  • About 2,500 Tasmanians have a serious problem with gambling on poker machines, and account for approximately a third of annual poker machine losses.  We believe this number to be an underestimate given the significant stigma associated with disclosing an addiction to poker machine gambling.
  • For each person who is harmed by gambling, there are likely 5-10 other people in their lives affected. Poker machine addiction damages the health of those affected through stress, and causes family breakdown, financial problems, poverty, job loss and homelessness.
  • The ripple effect of poker machine harm is such that one in three Tasmanians identifies as personally knowing someone experiencing serious problems with poker machine gambling.

Tasmanians don't want poker machines in community venues. 

Every poll since 2003 has shown the same result:

  • Four out of five Tasmanians do not agree that the community has benefitted from poker machines.
  • Four out of five Tasmanians want poker machines either reduced or completely removed from local pubs and clubs.

A question of values over insignificant revenue

The Tasmanian Government is not reliant on poker machine revenue. Tax collected from poker machines located outside of the casinos is around just $30 million a year.  In fact the Tasmanian Treasurer himself has said that policy will be guided by community views, not revenue considerations.

The $100 million lost annually by Tasmanians in local poker machines is money that does not circulate through local businesses for entertainment, services, and goods. Of Tasmania’s more than 30,000 small businesses, fewer than 100 have poker machines installed

Removing poker machines from local pubs and clubs is a decision that should be taken on public health grounds, and an adjustment program or other forms of assistance to affected venues is feasible. It is worth recalling that Tasmania banned smoking in pubs and clubs as a public health response, and fears that Tasmania’s pub scene would collapse when the bans were introduced proved unfounded.

We are calling on the Tasmanian Parliament to make a principled decision – that it will not accept revenue raised from activities that we know cause tremendous harm and suffering to our community.    

The history of poker machines in Tasmania

Poker machines were introduced into Tasmania in 1993 into Wrest Point Casino. In 1997 without any community consultation, the government allowed poker machines to be installed in venues outside casinos. This was a monopoly license agreement between the State Government and casino operators, Federal Hotels. 

In 2003, again without consultation, this monopoly was extended for fifteen years.

In 2018 this monopoly Deed with Federal Hotels will expire. Accordingly the Hodgman Government has begun an inquiry via a parliamentary Joint Select Committee into aspects of poker machine licensing in Tasmania.

Pokies cause harm and have no place in our pubs and clubs. This is the year for Tasmanians to show our elected representatives that we want change.


More information

If you want more detailed information, see our research on the subject here or contact Meg Webb, Manager, Social Action and Research Centre (Anglicare Tasmania) on 0427 911 719.