In a bid to justify their policies, Tasmanian political parties are arguing over the number of jobs the gambling industry creates.
A new report, which the Liberal Party reportedly delayed releasing, has revealed the gambling industry directly created 1086 jobs, plus 371 positions within the hotel and clubs industry, during the 2015-16 financial year.
The report comes as the state argues over poker machine policies and whether to ban the pokies in Tasmania. As part of an election promise, the Labor Party plans to phase out pokies from Tasmanian pubs and clubs by 2023.
Liberals slammed the policy, arguing that it would destroy the hospitality industry. The party quoted numbers from the Tasmanian Hospitality Association (THA) to support its stance, which has said around 5100 jobs are put at risk.
THA general manager Steve Old told local media outlets that the 5100 figure had been estimated on a headcount of employees, since a lot of employees work in the casual and part-time fields, rather than full-time.
The report confirmed Mr Old’s view in an added note stating that “reliable data on employment in the gambling industry are not collected by governments or industry”.
Mr Old said, “There’s going to be a massive impact, and I don’t think the report says anything different to what we’ve said.”
Federal Group’s Daniel Hanna added that the 5100 figure included employees working in hotels, as well as the Federal Group in Tasmania, which holds the monopoly of poker machines up until 2023.
“I think what is being claimed, and quite correctly, is that all of those jobs are potentially impacted,” he said.
But the report also revealed that poker machine popularity is decreasing among Tasmanians, with gamblers preferring to have a punt on their smartphone or tablet.
The report included a survey featuring 5000 Tasmanians in 15-minute phone interviews between June 13 and August 7, 2017, revealing money spent on pokies has declined by 27 percent, while online gambling has increased more than 54 percent in the past decade.
However, Labor’s Shadow Treasurer, Scott Bacon, pointed out that “$110 million was lost from the Tasmanian community on poker machines in a one-year period.”
Federal Group will still face job losses if the Liberals policy wins, since the party has promised to extend the 20-year poker machine licence to venues, instead of just the privately owned company.
While the Federal Group admitted it had some concerns over the Liberals’ policy, it prefers licensing competition over eliminating poker machines from pubs and clubs.
The company is planning to launch a pro-poker machine campaign at the Country Club Tasmania in the coming weeks, which will be fronted by 11 Federal Group employees and rolled out across several platforms, including TV and social media.
Country Club Tasmania marketing coordinator, Julie Kilinc, agreed that Labor’s policy risked both the jobs at Federal Group and casual and part-time positions in the hospitality sector.
Ms Kilinc told local media outlet, the Examiner, about her disappointment surrounding the policy.
“My sons have only just started going out into the workforce and I said, ‘Labor will do the right thing by the workers’.
“I was just devastated because I could see clearly that this would cost jobs.”
She also raised concerns about Liberal’s policy, which will end Federal Group’s monopoly.
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