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Clearing his perspective on retaining the poker machines in Tasmania, The National Pokies Reform Advocate, Tim Costello, who was in the state on Wednesday affirmed, it is like: “Saying let’s put ice or cocaine in pubs and clubs, but give people the freedom to choose whether they use it”.

The Alliance for Gambling Reforms Director said the industry’s claim that removing poker machines would put 5000 jobs at risk was “scaremongering”.

He added: “Fear works, but it’s completely untrue.” “Pokies destroy jobs, they are designed for addiction. Sure you have got to be individually responsible, but it’s the machine that’s built for addiction. It’s like saying let’s put ice in pubs and tax it and say we’ve got the freedom to choose ice or cocaine, it’s highly addictive.”

He described the pokies conversation as being equivalent to that of the gun control debate in the United States.

“It’s got this parallel … the second amendment when it was written in America referred to muskets. Pokies, when they came here, were coin operated and you couldn’t do much damage, now they’re digital and you can load up $7500. So like the musket has now changed to semi-automatic, but  with the same rights to freedom, the pokies have gone from coin-operated to massive, quick damage and you have this ‘nanny state, don’t interrupt our freedom’ argument.”

This state is about to set a course, not for the next few years, but for decades to come.

Previously working as a lawyer, he said his passion for pokies reform developed when he represented a woman who lost her business and whose marriage failed after she stole $60,000 to “feed her pokies addiction”.

“She got four years in jail for that theft,” he said.

“She didn’t drink or smoke and I said ‘how does a law-abiding person become a criminal, how does this happen?’ and the answer was ‘the addiction of pokies’. That really snapped me, I thought what are these machines?”

Tasmania would become the first state in Australia to remove the machines if Labor’s plan goes ahead.


Source: European Gaming Media and Events