Tasmania – Locals, bosses and employees in the hospitality industry criticise the Labour Party’s pledge of scrapping pokies in the state – should they win next year’s elections. Over 100 people gathered to argue the move. Come 2018, will the Labour Party win power?
Labour Party Vows to Remove Slot Machines
The Labour Party in the small southern Australian state of Tasmania has pledged to remove all slots machines from clubs and pubs in the state by 2023, if elected.
The party’s leader, Rebecca White, told the Special Broadcasting Service, that slots, also known as pokie machines, have a “devastating effect on people and their families”. White says pokies generated an estimated AU$110 million from players over the past year.
According to reports, the island holds about 3 500 pokie machines spread across pubs, clubs and casinos. All three combined bring in about 1% in the state’s total revenue every year.
The Labour Party further attested that it would fulfil its vow by not agreeing to extend the current licence deal with Federal Group after its cut-off in the next five years.
TAS Labour Party vs. The People
Among the many critics was the Federal Hotel’s director and CEO, Greg Farrell. Farrell expressed his concerns regarding the pledge taken by the party. He claims that the policy would ruin the gambling business if the minority party wins power. Also, a lot of people would lose their jobs.
“This will have a huge impact, directly, on the people we employ, on the suppliers who support our businesses and on our ability to execute our strategies of future growth,” said Farrell.
“Gaming is a very important part of our operations. We will be reviewing from a legal perspective what the implications are of the Labour Party policy,” he added.
The Federal Group is currently earning money from slot machines placed at Tasmanian casinos due to its striking deal with former government.
Hospitality Association Speaks
Another critic was the General Manager of the Tasmanian Hospitality Association, Steve Old. He backed Farrells’ statement saying that the move would be “massive” and that the policy was bigger than just hospitality.
“We’re happy to sit down and discuss harm minimisation but what they’ve done is gone to one extreme and destroyed an industry,” Old added.
On Friday, more than 100 staff in the hospitality industry gathered along the industry seniors outside the casino at Wrest Point to dispute the Labour Party’s pledge.
The Labour Party’s Further Plans
The Labour party will not only scrap pokies machine and leave it at that. White further said that pokies machines will be permitted at casinos regardless of the proposed plan. Also, approximately AU$55 million would be shared by the other organizations, this as a support package to assist them with the transition.