Gillard to States: Crack Down On Pokies

Published September 19, 2010

Gillard to States: Crack Down On Pokies

Plan met with heavy criticism from state governments, industry insiders.

Prime Minister Julia Gillard has come under fire from various quarters after agreeing to demands to crack down on poker machines.

In a deal struck with Tasmanian independent MP Andrew Wilkie, Gillard agreed to take on problem gambling, beginning by telling the states that if they don't fit poker machines with devices that limit losses, the Federal Government will be forced to intervene.

But the news has been heavily criticized, with state governments set to miss out on up to $1 billion in revenue, according to some estimates.

Tasmanian treasurer Michael Aird was among the first to question the plan, although he said that his government remained committed to gambling reform and to finding a national solution to problem gambling.

Aird said he could not put a figure on how much revenue Tasmania stood to lose from such a plan. What is known, however, is that it made approximately $60.5 million from its 3680 gaming revenues in 2009-10, a huge amount for Australia's least populous state.

ACT Chief Minister Jon Stanhope also took aim at the plan, siding with local industry officials who said that Gillard had turned her back on previous agreements.

The future of poker machines was a significant issue in the extremely tight Australian federal election, which ended in a stalemate that was broken when four of the five MPs not aligned with either major party chose to side with Gillard's Labor Party.

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