New Tasmania Pokies Tax Causes Uproar

Tasmania pokies tax is reducing by 12 per cent from July 2023

The Tasmania pokies tax rate is almost halving, much to the annoyance of anti-gambling critics. They argue the draft legislation does not go far enough. The Federal Group is unhappy, too, because it is not only losing its 50-year monopoly but is set to be more than $30 million out of pocket each year.

Tasmania State Government unveiled a draft of new gaming legislation late last week. It comes into effect from July 1, 2023. The Federal Group runs both casinos in Tasmania: Hobart’s West Point and Launceston’s Country Club. The new tax laws combined with removing the group monopoly will cost the group $30.62 million annually.

Federal Group’s casinos are the only place to play pokies in Tasmania. This has been the case since they opened Australia’s first legal casino in February 1973. These new laws permit Tasmania pubs and clubs to operate pokies at the cost of $25 million to Federal Group.

A tax hike on Keno games in pubs and clubs comes with a $5.28 million financial hit to the Federal Group. However, the fact Tasmania pokies tax falls by 12 per cent negates some of those losses. It is the reduction in pokies taxes that angers anti-gambling campaigners.

Andrew Wilkie: Tasmania Poker Machine Operators Hit The Jackpot

Independent MP Andrew Wilkie is a staunch anti-gambling campaigner. He wants pubs, clubs, and casinos taxed more on pokies revenue, not less.

“Well the new poker machine tax rates have finally been released, and they are even more outrageous than feared,” Mr. Wilkie said.

“For a start, Federal Group will enjoy a thumping big tax cut on their casino poker machines. And while the Government will try to make a virtue of the fact that Federal is worse off in gross terms, the reality is they had no inherent right to the old tax rate. Moreover, they own some of the state’s most lucrative hotels, which will all steeply increase in value with the issue of their individual licenses, which previously they have not held but which are contained in the State Government’s poker machine package.

“The same goes for pubs which might appear to be worse off with their higher tax rate when the reality is that every pub is increasing in value on account of the individual licenses they will shortly be issued. This will more than offset the trickle effect of a tax increase.

“The bottom line is that today is payday for the parasites in the poker machine industry who bankrolled the Liberal Party’s 2018 election win. They will all be delighted with this fabulous return on their investment.”

Labor Leaves Pokies Off Manifesto

The bankrolling of the Liberal Party’s 2018 election win Wilkie alluded to is a sore point for the Labor Party. Labor’s Rebecca White staked her entire Tasmania election campaign on a radical policy of removing all pokies from pubs and clubs. White’s plans fell flat and left her with the proverbial egg on her face.

White was vocal in her stance against pokies, but pro-gaming enthusiasts rallied against her. Powerful entities such as Tasmanian Hospitality Association, Australian Hotel Association, and Federal Group donated more than $320,000 to the Liberal Party’s election efforts. Ultimately, the Liberal Party won.

Labor’s latest election campaign did not mention pokies once, having learned from the previous backlash. However, they scored a minor victory with the new Tasmania gambling bill. The bill is removing at least 150 pokies from Tasmania by July 1, 2023, which should please Labor and Wilkie.

Less Tasmanians Are Gambling

The Tasmanian Parliament received the annual Social and Economic Impact Study last week. Part of the study shows 47 per cent of adults gambled in 2020, down from 58 per cent in 2017. Furthermore, Tasmanians’ spent an average of $773 on gaming in 2020; the lowest per capita spend in Australia.

Problem gambling is reducing also. It fell from 0.6 per cent of gamblers in 2017 to 0.4 per cent in 2020.