Local councils are being urged to speak up in defence of their communities by supporting the removal of poker machines from clubs and pubs.
A new interactive map released by Anglicare today reveals the money lost by local communities on poker machine gambling. It shows the total dollar loss experienced by each Local Government Area, how much each poker machine takes from the community, and the average loss per adult.
There are 16 LGAs where every poker machine in the community takes the same or more than the local average wage.
“These machines are rigged to win and designed for addiction,” said Meg Webb from Anglicare’s Social Action and Research Centre. “This map shows the harm that’s being done at a local level”.
“Tasmanians do not want poker machines in their home towns and suburbs. People are well acquainted with the damage they cause, including family breakdown, depression, financial hardship, health problems, legal matters, work issues and suicide”.
Poker machines were introduced in the state in 1997. Tasmanians now lose almost $200 million each year to poker machine gambling.
A statewide poll conducted in November revealed that 4 in 5 Tasmanians want poker machines reduced in number or removed entirely from clubs and hotels.
“Local government can advocate for the health, safety and wellbeing of communities,” said Ms Webb. “By supporting the removal of poker machines, councils can clearly demonstrate that they’re serious about putting people first”.
Brighton Mayor Tony Foster said his council was particularly unhappy about the concentration of poker machines in low socio-economic areas.
“Local government, as the tier of government closest to the community, can help to bring about change,” he said. “Money is being bled from our communities and poker machine gambling is having all kinds of adverse consequences for families, small businesses and on general economic activity,” Mr Foster said. “Our communities are unhappy and we can’t stand idly by. I urge all councils to declare their intention to go pokermachine free”.
Anglicare has written to all Tasmanian councils urging them to join a local coalition of groups seeking the removal of poker machines from hotels and clubs. Anglicare has also made the interactive map publicly available.
Poker machines cause harm in your local area ...
ThE map (ABOVE)shows the amount of money that is lost by Tasmanians to poker machines. For each Local Government Area (LGA) the map shows the number of poker machines, total annual loss and average annual loss per adult.
Three local government areas alone lose a combined total of $50 million dollars every year – Glenorchy, Launceston and Devonport.
Each poker machine in Glenorchy takes an average of $74,496 from the community every year. This is almost twice the average wage for the area.
In Launceston, every poker machine takes about $10,000 more than the local average wage.
In Devonport, a poker machine “earns” $11,000 more than the local average wage.
There are 16 LGAs where a poker machine “earns” the same or more than the local average wage.
For five local government areas the average loss per adult population exceeds $500 per year. These areas are Devonport ($645), Glenorchy ($584), West Coast ($518), Waratah-Wynyard ($516) and Burnie ($505).
Just four local government areas experience no losses to poker machines. This is because there are no poker machines in their suburbs.
Evidence regarding poker machines and community harm SARC has been undertaking research and providing critical information to government on the individual and community harm caused by poker machines since their introduction into hotels and clubs. Critical findings include:
About 2,500 Tasmanians are experiencing harm from poker machine gambling and account for about a third of annual poker machine losses.
For each person who is harmed by gambling, there are likely 5-10 other people in their lives affected. Effects include family stress and breakdown, financial stress, poverty, job loss and homelessness.
People harmed by a gambling problem suffer significant impacts to their health, particularly from stress.
Poker machines are deliberately designed to be addictive.
Community views on poker machines Independent polling of 1000 Tasmanians commissioned by the Social Action and Research Centre (SARC) and conducted by EMRS found that:
84% of Tasmanians believe that the community has not benefited from having poker machines in local pubs and clubs.
Four out of five Tasmanians want poker machines reduced in number or removed entirely from local venues.
Data sources for the map
This map shows data about poker machines in hotels and clubs for each local government area for 2014-2015.
In the 11 local government areas where losses on poker machines are aggregated together and not available individually, we estimated the annual loss based on the total for these 11 areas and the proportion of machines located in each area.
Almost $200 million was lost to poker machines in Tasmania in 2014-2015, $114 million of which was lost to poker machines in hotels and clubs.
The map excludes losses on the 1221 poker machines in the casinos and ferries (an additional approximately $80 million per annum). All poker machine data comes from the Tasmanian Gaming Commission. Average wage data and population figures were obtained from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).
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