Tasmanian opposition party pledges to ban pokies

Tasmania may be the first state in Australia to remove slot machines from its pubs and clubs, as long as the opposition party wins the state election next year, local media reports.

Tasmania’s Labor Party has pledged to remove slot machines from non-casino venues by 2023, which would mean 2375 machines being phased out over five years.

Tasmanian Labor leader Rebecca White said that the harm from gaming machines are “widespread” and said she would seize a “once in a generation” to ban pokies if the party wins the state election in March.

“Last financial year, Tasmanians lost A$110 million on poker machines in pubs and clubs — money that could be better spent in our communities supporting small business and families,” she said.

“A Labor government is ready to take a stand and that includes putting the welfare of people first.”

The opposition party says it would provide a A$55 million ($41.7 million) package to help venues and businesses make the transition away from slot machines.

“Research shows more than 80 per cent of Tasmanians want poker machines out of pubs and clubs – I have listened, Labor has listened and we are ready to do the right thing,” said White.