Tasmania Begins to Propose Gaming Market Changes

Changing gaming and gambling regulations can be one of the most contentious, both among lawmakers and in seeking public opinion. The Tasmanian Government has been looking to update its gambling laws for years, and the results of studies have prompted lawmakers to put forward some policy proposals. It is all a part of the 2018 policy entitled The Future of Gaming in Tasmania. And changes are in the works, no matter the controversy.

Future Gaming Market Overview

The Tasmanian Government has put the gambling market’s future into the hands of the Liquor and Gaming sector of the Department of Treasury and Finance.

The bill itself – the Gaming Control Amendment (Future Gaming Market) Bill 2021 – is actually 214 pages long. Its purpose is to amend the 1993 Gaming Control Act. The series of changes to update the Tasmanian gambling market is beginning but may take until 1 July 2023 to complete.

There are several overarching goals that put the bill into perspective:

  • Create a sustainable industry
  • Provide the highest standards of probity and ethics
  • Ensure returns from the gaming industry are shared in fairness to industry providers, players, and community members via the government
  • Minimise harm caused by problem gambling

In more specific terms, there are quite a few changes and reforms proposed in the bill. There are already outcries of “not enough” or “too much” by various interested parties, though the process is only in the beginning stages for most reforms. Lawmakers must introduce official amendments to do each of the following, but the reforms planned include:

  • Decrease cap for electronic gaming machines (EGMs)
  • Create individual venue licenses for EGM operations in hotels and clubs
  • Authorize two new non-resident high-roller casino licenses
  • Redistribute returns more fairly
  • Tender the rights to monitor hotel and club EGMs
  • Increase future funding for gambling harm minimisation

Stage One Consultation Process to Stage Two

The first of two stages of the consultation process to determine the future of the Tasmanian gambling market began in February 2020. The Tasmanian Liquor and Gambling Commission collected those 68 responses by mid-March 2020 and published them. These will determine how the framework of the new regulatory model.

As they pooled that information into a draft, that took the process to its second stage. It created the aforementioned bill, five specific proposed amendments, and three consultation fact sheets.Luckily, the government published a much shorter summary that provided an overview of the main points.

  • Hotel EGM license fee increase from 25.88% to 33.91%
  • Club EGM license fee increase from 25.88% to 32.91%
  • Pub community support levy increase from 4% to 5%
  • Casino community support levy increase from 0% to 3%

These increases should push revenue from the 2018-2019 amount of $54.67M to $63.16M. The new community support levy will go solely to gambling harm prevention and problem gambling programs.

  • Casino tax rate increase from 0.88% to 0.91%
  • EGM tax rate decrease from 25.88% to 13.91%
  • Casino keno tax rate increase from 5.88% to 0.91%
  • Statewide keno tax rate increase from 5.88% to 20.31%
  • Fully automated table game tax rate increase from 0% to 5.91%

In addition, casinos dubbed as high rollers will pay new taxes on gross profits:

  • If those profits stay below $15M, they will pay 3%.
  • Profits between $15M and $30M will require a 5% tax.
  • Those making over $30M will pay a 7% tax rate.

All in all, individual pubs and clubs will have more control over their electronic gaming machines (EGMs), ending the federal government’s monopoly on that control.

Loss Limits for Pokies Players?

Though not mentioned in the Future Gaming Market materials on the Tasmanian Government’s website, the Liquor and Gaming Commission has been considering a new method by which to reduce potential gambling harm. It would be controlled by players but would be one of the strongest moves in Australia to put some restrictions on pokies player rewards programs in clubs.

If approved, the new policy would require all pokies players in those rewards programs to set a financial limit on their annual gambling. They would set the parameters regarding the amount of money they will be willing to lose in a 12-month period. This will apply to more approximately 1,000 loyalty program members in Tasmania.

Per ABC News, Commission Chairwoman Jenny Cranston hailed the move as more progressive than even the current voluntary limits in Victoria. “We know that people generally underestimate the amount of money they lose when gambling,” she said, “so having actual data on losses should assist players to set realistic gambling limits. Spending up to a realistic limit set by players in a rational and conscious manner before they start to gamble will assist them to avoid chasing losses and spending more than they can afford.”

Independent MP Andrew Wilkie, who has long supported strict gambling reforms, claimed that this plan is not satisfactory at all. He said it could help a small number of players but needs to be stricter.

“If we’re going to have a mandatory pre-commitment system,” he said, “then it must apply to all players on all machines and it must be a daily limit.”

 

Rose Varrelli avatar
Rose Varrelli
Senior Casino & News Writer

Hi there! I’m Rose, and with nine years behind me in the iGaming industry, I craft engaging narratives at CasinoAus. My education in Communication across Europe has sharpened my skills in fintech, casino legislation, and digital marketing. Backed by a strong foundation in SEO, storytelling, and cross-cultural communication, I’m passionate about creating content that resonates globally and educates our audience.

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