PROBLEM or moderate gamblers are losing up to $8000 a year, according to figures calculated using the 2015 Social and Economic Impact Study (SEIS) and ABS population data.
However, Independent Denison MP Andrew Wilkie said he’d heard estimations far greater.
“When I was chairman of the gambling reform committee in the previous parliament, we heard evidence of problem gamblers losing up to $25,000 a year on average,” he said.
“These tend to be people on lower income and often on government pension payments, so whatever figure you use, you can probably draw the same conclusion - it’s more than they can afford.”
In 2013, about $62 million of losses in Tasmania were by moderate or problem gamblers, aged 20 years and over.
Total real gambling losses in 2011-12 prices was $310 million in 2012-13.
The second Social and Economic Impact Study found electronic gaming machines tended to be concentrated in lower socio-economic areas, including Glenorchy and Devonport.
Bass Greens MHA Andrea Dawkins said the figures showed removing electronic gaming machines from pubs and clubs may not stop problem gamblers, but it was still the best place to start.
Mr Wilkie said the 2010 Federal Productivity Commission still remained the most credible report for gambling reform, which recommended $1 maximum bets and mandatory precommitment.
This was the most sensible reform, Mr Wilkie said, as a total ban of pokies was not a ‘realistic position’ to take.
Federal Group gaming operator spokesman Daniel Hanna said regulation of gaming in Tasmania was the most stringent of any Australian state or Territory.
“The density of gaming in Tasmania, the average spend on gaming by Tasmanians, and the problem gambling rate among Tasmanian adults are all well below the national average,” he said.
Last Thursday, the government outlined its terms of reference regarding gaming reform, including a pledge to put the right to EGMs post-2023 out to tender and a public interest test to apply to the relocation of machines into new venues.
The statewide EGM cap of 3690 would also be decreased by 160 machines, and a consideration of up to two ‘highroller non-residential’ casinos.
Treasurer Peter Gutwein did not respond directly to questions surrounding $8000 of gambling losses but said that the government’s final decision will be informed by a parliamentary inquiry.
Opposition Treasurer Scott Bacon said Labor was in the process of engaging with stakeholders to inform its response to the Joint Select Committee.
“Labor has two clear objectives in framing its response to the gaming license issue: improving harm minimisation for problem gamblers and providing certainty for investment,” Mr Bacon said.
“The position the Liberal Government has put forward achieves neither. It does not achieve a real reduction in gaming machine numbers and it creates an uncertain investment environment until at least 2023.”
Ms Dawkins said that the Greens were disappointed that the government’s terms of reference made no mention of the number of EGMs and their location, type and design.
“We’ve been on record for many years for saying the poker machines should come out of our least advantaged suburbs.”