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Labor in Tasmania vows to phase out pokies

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Tasmania’s Labor Opposition has pledged to remove pokies from the state’s pubs and clubs if it wins an expected March election.

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The policy, announced today, would result in 2375 poker machines being phased out from venues across the state over a five-year period.

Labor leader Rebecca White described the harmful impacts of the gaming machines as “widespread”.

“Last financial year, Tasmanians lost $110 million on poker machines in pubs and clubs – money that could be better spent in our communities supporting small business and families,” she said.

“A Labor government is ready to take a stand and that includes putting the welfare of people first.”

Labor would provide a $55 million package to help venues and businesses make the transition away from the electronic gaming machines.

Part of that figure includes $4 million for staff retraining and professional development at nearly 100 affected pubs and clubs.

However, poker machines would still be allowed in casinos.

Federal Group operates all the state’s pokies under a monopoly licence.

Labor said it would not extend the current deal with Federal Group, which allows poker machines in venues other than casinos, beyond 2023.

White said more than 70 pubs and clubs as well as key stakeholders were consulted.

“Research shows more than 80 per cent of Tasmanians want poker machines out of pubs and clubs – I have listened, Labor has listened and we are ready to do the right thing,” she said.

A state election is expected in March.

– AAP

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