Tasmanian pokies alcohol ban is bad for business

Andrew Wilkie
Politician Andrew Wilkie has long been a critic of pokies and the social harm they might do.
Beginning May 1, alcohol will not be served to gamblers sitting at pokies in Tasmania.

But Hoteliers and officials from Tasmanian venues are complaining that the new restriction is bad for business and will send patrons away.

The new restriction has been put in place and actioned by the Responsible Gambling Mandatory Code of Practice for Tasmania.

According to the new restrictions, patrons will no longer be served alcohol while playing, seating or standing anywhere near a gaming machine. Likewise, casino players will no longer be able to obtain alcoholic beverages between 6pm and when the casino closes each day.

Steve Old, of the Tasmania Hospitality Association, said the new rules makes it harder for customers to gamble in clubs and pubs to the detriment of operators. According to him, the code is harsh and the harm minimization practices within the code are not helpful at all. As far as Old is concerned, the changes to the code go too far.

Alcohol restriction is not the only change at Tasmanian pubs and clubs, there is also restrictions on the total amount of money withdrawable from EFTPOS machines at venues with poker machines. Cash withdrawals is limited to $100 in both clubs and pubs but it is limited to $200 in casinos.

Considering that patrons and tourists bring good business to poker machines, officials of the Tasmania Hospitality Association say cash withdrawal restrictions will chase patrons of country pubs away.

Old said placing restrictions on customers who choose to lodge and eat at a place because they have gaming machines, only to be limited to obtaining $100 for betting, is restrictive and unfair.

To make matters for the gambling industry in Tasmania worse, the Labor party during their political campaigns before the elections in March said they will remove all poker machines from clubs and pubs in the southeastern coast island by 2023.

Andrew Wilke, independent Member for Denison in Tasmania said the gambling code reforms need to go further. According to him, the alcohol prohibition and cash withdrawal restrictions would be very helpful to many people who have a problem with gambling.

“The sort of reform that is needed is $1 maximum bets, limits on jackpots and even a mandatory pre-commitment system where people set limits and those limits are enforced on the machines,” he said.

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