In the small southern Australian state of Tasmania, the local chapter of the opposition Labor Party has reportedly pledged to remove all electronic gaming machines from clubs and pubs if it wins a majority at next year’s general election.

According to a report from the Special Broadcasting Service, there are approximately 3,500 electronic gaming machines spread across Tasmania’s clubs, pubs and casinos bringing in about 1% of the island state’s annual revenues. The Labor Party stated that it would accomplish its promise by refusing to extend the licensing deal with sole operator Federal Group beyond its current 2023 cut-off.

The broadcaster reported that the move would make Tasmania only the second Australian state after Western Australia to forbid clubs and pubs from offering electronic gaming machines, which are often known locally as ‘pokies.’ However, players would still be able to enjoy the appliances inside the jurisdiction’s casinos such as the Wrest Point Casino Hotel near Hobart.

In announcing the pledge earlier today, Tasmanian Labor Party Leader Rebecca White reportedly told the Special Broadcasting Service that electronic gaming machines have ‘a devastating effect on people and their families’ and last year took in around $83.67 million from players.

“Economic modeling has shown that it could provide an additional 180 jobs in Tasmania if only half that money is spent in the community,” White reportedly told the broadcaster.

The Special Broadcasting Service reported that the nearly 100 clubs and pubs in Tasmania feature more than 2,300 electronic gaming machines while the Labor Party additionally vowed that it would encourage venues to retire their ‘pokies’ before the 2023 deadline via a $41.84 million package of incentives. This inducement is to purportedly moreover feature approximately $3.04 million that would be earmarked for professional development and staff retraining.

The broadcaster reported that September saw a joint parliamentary committee call for the numbers of electronic gaming machines in Tasmania to be ‘significantly reduced’, which subsequently prompted the ruling Liberal Party government of Premier Will Hodgman to propose decreasing the total estate by some 150 units in advance of 2023.

The local Liberal Party has reportedly long cautioned that a sudden and severe cut in the numbers of electronic gaming machines would cost the state jobs while Michael Bailey, Chief Executive for the Tasmanian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, purportedly more recently warned that the Labor Party plan could prompt problem gamblers to relocate to online platforms.

“We’ve heard from operators of hotels across the state, which support local economies, that if poker machines are removed in their entirety it will cost jobs,” Hodgman reportedly told the Special Broadcasting Service.

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