Like the rest of Australia, Tasmania pokies are extremely popular among the locals. A flutter on these machines is one of the most common pastimes among all Aussies. Likewise, the nation suffers from the largest rate of problem gambling in the world.
The Tasmania government, determined to analyze the issue and take any appropriate action deemed necessary, employed a special committee to conduct an investigation. But some believe the government is downplaying the impact of gambling addiction in an effort to please the Federal Group, which maintains a monopoly on Tasmania pokies.
3400+ Ways to Play Pokies in Tasmania
According to comments made to the parliamentary committee on Wednesday by Treasurer Peter Gutwein, the government plans to do very little. Gutwein said the Liberal administration wants to eliminate 150 poker machines.
That’s a drop in the hat compared to how many are already installed across the island. There are currently 3,560 machines to play pokies in Tasmania. Removing 150 of them – a mere 4.2% – would still leave 3,410 pokies in place.
The committee questioned the Treasurer, asking why the government decided on such a small number. Gutwein responded by stating the obvious – that it’s perfectly legal to play pokies in Tasmania. He added that the “vast majority” of Tasmanian’s do “gamble responsibly” on these machines.
“What you’re talking about is removing a choice for many people that are responsible,” he explained.
Gutwein argues that cutting the number of Tasmania pokies any further would be unfair to those who play responsibly. But could it be that the government really feels it’s unfair to Federal Group, who’s been a considerable donor to the Liberal Party throughout history?
Protecting Federal Group’s Revenue & Monopoly
The more poker machines there are in Tasmania, the more the government stands to generate in permit fees and tax dollars. That much is obvious. But with an impending review of the Federal Group’s monopoly on Tasmania pokies – due to expire in 2023 – there may be a bit more to it than that.
Premier Will Hodgman, who also spoke at the committee meeting on Wednesday, denied implications that the government might be basing its decision on favoritism towards Federal Group.
When the committee asked the Premier to discontinue acceptance of donations to the Liberal Party ade by Federal Group, he replied:
“At least for the last two financial years we have not received a donation.”
Cut Out the Bling in Tasmania Pokies
Another topic discussed at the meeting was the possibility of cutting down on the bling that comes along with playing pokies in Tasmania. Just like the games in Macau and Las Vegas, Tasmania pokies have all the bells and whistles.
They are constantly flashing with lights and chiming loudly whenever a player wins, no matter how insignificant the payout. Even if a player wagers $1 and only wins $0.20 on the spin, the machine reacts with jubilant delight.
Tasmanian Greens MP Andrea Dawkins speculated that poker machines “psychologically trick people into thinking they’re having a good time.” In her opinion, all the bling makes people think they can play pokies in Tasmania and win money, when “they’re really just losing money.”
“That concern does get raised,” said Gutwein, admitting that toning it down could be beneficial in helping problem gamblers keep their distance.
“This is an opportunity for the committee to consider whether or not there is any validity to that claim and consider what happens in other states and jurisdictions,” he said.