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Poker machine debate grips Australia

Australia has been lambasted by Canberra based think tank The Australia Institute, after new figures revealed its poker machine habits.

With 835,000 of the worlds 1,076,000 poker machines, representing almost 80%, located in dedicated gambling venues, such as casinos, race tracks, betting agencies and slot halls, the paper points the finger at the remaining 241,000, situated in the worlds pubs and clubs.

This new report reveals that Australia lays claim to 187,000 of these ‘pub and club’ poker machines, representing 76% of the worldwide total.

Bill Browne, report co-author, explained: “Australia has 0.3% of the world’s population but 6% of its conventional gaming machines and 18% of its poker machines.

“Only 241,000 of the world’s poker machines are outside of dedicated gaming venues – of which 183,000 are in Australian pubs and clubs. Australia has over 75% of the world’s pub and club poker machines.

“In terms of machines per person, Australia is right up there with casino-states like Monaco, Macau and Caribbean Island nations.

“Australia’s large number of poker machines and our unusual decision to allow them in pubs and clubs make us a global anomaly.

“Other gambling games can also be risky, but poker machines are high-intensity, putting people at risk of losing hundreds or thousands of dollars an hour.

“We talk about the ‘Western Australian Model’ of keeping pokies out of pubs and clubs, but WA is consistent with global practice.”

The report used data from the World Count of Gaming Machines, a survey commission by the Gaming Technologies Association, the peak representative body for Australian gaming machine technology suppliers.

Leanne Minshull, Director of The Australia Institute Tasmania, added: “Tasmania has more pokies than India, Italy and the Netherlands combined, most countries, 226 out of 238, do not have any poker machines in pubs and clubs.”

“Tasmanian Labor’s policy of getting Poker machines out of Tasmania’s pubs and clubs is not a radical step but a step towards a global norm.

“If Tasmania joined WA in banning pub and club poker machines, they would be following the vast majority of the world’s countries.”

This comes after plans were announced to make Tasmania only the second Australian state without Pokies, after Western Australian, should Labor win the next election.

A policy has been announced to remove the machines from the state’s pub and clubs by 2023, with a $55m encouragement package also in place.

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