“Don’t be fooled”

Pokies reform advocate: Tim Costello

Respected social justice advocate, Tim Costello has warned Tasmania to seize the chance to free the state from the grip of poker machines.

“Whatever the election outcome, things are set to dramatically change in relation to the level of harm caused by poker machines in Tasmania,” said Revd Costello. “This state is about to set a course – not for the next few years, but for decades to come”.

Revd Costello said the Liberal plan would see pokies ownership move to a more dangerous and competitive venue-owned model.

“If that happens, this state needs to be prepared for a potential move by a ruthless pokies operator like Woolworths to swoop in and become the state’s biggest operator like it is in Victoria, South Australia, NSW and Queensland”. Woolworths already has a foothold in Tasmania, with five venues in the state.

Revd Costello said the Victorian experience had shown that competitive licensing was a recipe for disaster. “Tasmania’s gambling landscape would fundamentally shift and there’d be no turning back,” he said.  “The more a bidder pays for a licence to operate a pokies venue, the more money they want to take out of that community. It also means that even more powerful vested interests get involved in your state’s affairs – with all the negative consequences that go with that”.

Tim Costello urged Tasmanians to see through industry’s exaggerated claims.

“As expected, we’ve heard all sorts of ridiculous figures being thrown about,” he said. “The reality is that poker machines are sucking millions of dollars out of this state. The negative effects also cost Tasmania in relation to people’s health, family breakdown, crime and suicide.

“If you want to support local businesses and jobs, then take this opportunity to get poker machines out of hotels and clubs,” said Revd Costello. “Tasmanians know there are far better, more creative and ethical ways to do business. This is an opportunity to say no, we’re not going to be ripped off any more”.

Join Anglicare and SARC’s Pokies Cause Harm campaign.

Photo courtesy The Examiner. Photography by Paul Scambler.

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