Phasing out Poker machines a good bet for Tasmania

Report questions estimates of the impact on employment and revenue if Electronic Gaming Machines were phased out of Tasmania. 

A new report from Hobart-based think tank The Australia Institute Tasmania has found that previous estimates of the impact of phasing out Poker machines on employment are inconsistent with recent Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) data.   

ABS data suggests gambling employment in Tasmania of around 1,500 people, rather than over 4,000 as suggested in the most recent government-commissioned social and economic impact study. 

“With the Tasmanian Joint Select Committee on Future Gaming Markets currently considering the future of poker machines, The Australia Institute Tasmania wanted to take a closer look at the economic modelling used for forecasting the impact on employment and GDP,” Director of The Australia Institute Tasmania, Leanne Minshull said. 

“Firstly, there is a massive gulf in the job numbers between the ABS and the number in the report that the Tasmanian Government commissioned.  

“We’re concerned that the government is counting all employment by businesses with a gambling licence as if those jobs are entirely involved in gambling. This is despite the businesses themselves saying only 19% of their employees are working in gambling roles. 

“Our research also found that under most models, the cost of Poker machine-related problem gambling (up to $184 million in 2011 dollars) far exceeds revenue from Poker machine-related gambling taxes and fees ($53.4 million in 2016).” 

“Figures relied upon to estimate impact to the State’s GDP may also be over-estimated as scenarios were limited to considering the end of the Tasmanian gambling industry as a whole rather than just the phase out of Poker machines,” Minshull said. 

The research concludes that more transparent and robust modelling is required to accurately assess the impact to GDP from a phase out of Poker machines.  

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