Tas set for nation-leading pokies limits

·2-min read

Tasmania is set to become the first jurisdiction in the country to implement a mandatory pre-commitment scheme for poker machine players to cap their losses.

The state Liberal government on Thursday announced the scheme would be in place by the end of 2024.

Under the system, people will use photo ID to obtain a card to play the machines. The card will have a pre-set loss limit of $100 per day, $500 per month and $5000 per year.

The limits will be able to be lowered by players, or increased within "certain parameters".

"Tasmania will be the first state in the country to implement a scheme of this kind," Deputy Premier Michael Ferguson told reporters.

"The danger we've seen with machines, that in many cases are designed to get you hooked, is that people chase their losses.

"The percentage of problem gamblers in Tasmania is very small, but this measure is to support them.

"I do expect a bit of noise around this issue, but we're very committed to this. It will be a model for the rest of the country to follow."

The Tasmanian Hospitality Association (THA) says it was blindsided by the decision, accusing the government of backflipping on earlier pledges to support free choice.

The Liberals were heavily backed by the hospitality industry at the 2018 state election against a Labor opposition running on a platform of banning pokies, a position it has since dropped.

"Tasmanians entrusted the Liberal government at the 2018 election with their vote because they supported freedom and choice," THA chief executive Steve Old said in a statement.

"The government has declared it will decide how Tasmanians spend their money and how Tasmanians consume their entertainment."

He said the THA plans to "consult with our operators who are affected by this decision".

The government move is in line with a recommendation by the state's liquor and gaming commission.

Commission chair Jenny Cranston said the process for allowing people to shift their default limits would be developed, but it was expected the $5000 yearly cap would be a "hard" limit.

She said if people were to increase that limit, they would need to prove they could sustain such losses.

Ms Cranston said everyone who plays the pokies will be able to track how much they are spending and the data will be used to analyse trends.

Victoria operates a voluntary pre-commitment scheme, but Julia Gillard's federal government in 2012 walked away from a pledge to introduce mandatory pre-commitment.

Tasmanian independent federal MP and anti-pokies campaigner Andrew Wilkie welcomed the announcement, but warned the devil was in the detail.

"There will likely need to be improvements to the pre-commitment system," he said.

"For example, any provision allowing poker machine players to change their daily and monthly limits at venues must not allow for changes to take effect immediately."

Tasmania's peak body for community services, TasCOSS, has backed the scheme.