23 Aug

Review suggests major changes to Tasmania Pokies Rules

Tasmania pokies rules could undergo big changes following review.

Review of Tasmania Pokies RulesMany months ago, Tasmania requested an official review of the island state’s Responsible Gambling Mandatory Code of Practice. Following extensive debate as to the efficiency of consumer protection laws regarding problem gambling, politicians agreed that some changes may be in order.

Last week, that review finally came back, and the results may be a real eye-opener for the state. Numerous changes to Tasmania pokies rules are being suggested. Poker machine operators are already opposing the recommendations, and many of the islands most avid gambling enthusiast may too.

Recommended Changes to Tasmania Pokies Rules

The review, conducted by the Tasmania Liquor and Gaming Commission (LGC), suggested numerous changes to the current laws. The purpose of each recommendation is to help reduce the rate of problem gambling in Tasmania.

The most notable alteration to the existing Code of Practice would reflect the same interstate caps on jackpots already in use in other parts of Australia. The means reducing the limit on payouts to a cap of $10,000.

No machine would be able to pay any prize higher than $10,000. This would virtually eliminate the installment of progressive jackpot games as we know them. In order for an operator to offer a progressive jackpot, it would have to start relatively low, and would have to be guaranteed to strike before it exceeds $10,000 mark.

Would this be an advantage, or a bane for problem gamblers? Anti-pokies advocates feel those who suffer from addiction may spend every coin they can muster on a progressive game that’s close to reaching its limit.

And for those responsible gamblers who prefer progressive pokies, it would simply drive them even harder to play at online casinos that are regulated offshore. The progressive jackpots at casinos like Royal Vegas can start at 6- and 7-figures, and pay out multi-million prizes to the winners.

Clearly, the new Tasmania pokies rules have the potential to work against them in multiple ways. But reducing the jackpot isn’t the only thing the LGC is suggesting.

Other Suggestions for Updating Pokies Rules

The review committee is also proposing that Tasmania alter the following rules for poker machines in the state.

  • Cash payouts on pokies should be reduced to a maximum of $1,000.
  • Reduce ATM/EFTPO withdrawals to $100 per day at locations that operate pokies.
  • Institute a ban on cashing cheques at locations that operate pokies.
  • Institute a ban against poker machine advertisements within locations that operate pokies
  • Require loyalty program statements to include the user’s hours played, turnover, wins/losses and a lifetime tally of each.

Opposition from Both Sides of Pokies Debate

It didn’t take long for both sides of the argument to weigh in on the review’s suggestions, and neither were pleased. Anti-gambling advocates say the Tasmania pokies rules don’t go far enough to help reduce harm. The industry says they are “over the top”.

Opponents would rather see the maximum payout decreased much lower, mimicking the max $940 payout upheld by New Zealand, or even better, the $170 limit in the UK. Anything higher, and anti-pokies campaigners like Meg Webb of Anglicare Social Action and Research Center says it won’t help the state’s 6,000-10,000 at-risk gamblers.

“The thing that will really reduce the harm is to significantly restrict the access we have to them by only having them in casinos,” said Ms. Webb.

Representing the industry’s side of the argument is Steve Old, head of the Tasmanian Hospitality Association. “We believe that Tasmania has strong harm minimisation practices already,” he said. “This is very much over the top and a pretty drastic report and we’re going to fight it hard.”