Getting pollies on the same page over pokies

james boyce

Tasmanian politicians will have plenty of reading material as they head off for the winter break thanks to one Wesley Hobart Uniting Church member.

James Boyce, author of Losing streak – How Tasmania was gamed by the gambling industry, yesterday signed copies of his book, which the Tasmanian Greens will send to every Tasmanian MP.

On Sunday Mr Boyce set up a table with Greens leader Cassy O’Connor at Sorell Market, which is a 20-minute drive southeast of Hobart, to publicly sign the books and talk about the harm poker machine gambling does in Tasmania.

Mr Boyce wrote personalised messages to Tasmanian Premier Will Hodgman and Opposition Leader Rebecca White which asked for clear gaming policies heading into the state election which will happen early next year.

“Labor and Liberal record on pokies is appalling,” Mr Boyce tweeted.

He said he hoped reading the book would remind MPs “to represent the people not Federal Hotels”.

Losing streak details the cosy relationship between Tasmanian governments and gambling giant Federal Hotels, owned by the Farrell family, over the last 50 years.

Federal Hotels has the licence for both of Tasmania’s casinos and a near monopoly on poker machines in pubs and clubs.

The licence deal can be terminated next year but with a five-year expiration period.

Sorell was chosen as the venue to do the public book signing because the small town, in one of Tasmania’s most economically disadvantaged areas, hosts 90 poker machines.

“What we do know is that because of the very nature of the deed pokies are placed into areas of low economic status, meaning that money is funnelled from the poor into one of Australia’s richest families,” a Greens spokesperson said.

Mr Boyce and Greens are attempting to educate MPs on the sometimes murky aspects of the history of poker machines in Tasmania.

Two months ago the Greens wrote to the Liberal and Labor parties asking them not to take donations from Federal Hotels leading up to the election.

Mr Boyne’s book raises many questions about government decisions and allegations of corruption which have accompanied the granting Federal Hotels a monopoly gaming licence.

The book also points to the alarming increase in problem gambling in Tasmania and the comparatively low amount of tax that the state government has received.

Image: Jacquelin Robinson/Twitter  

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