In a rare, worthwhile decision the Brumby Government in Victoria have got rid of the Tattersall’s/Tabcorp poker machine monopoly in Victoria. In 4 years all of Victoria’s 27,500 pokies (outside of Crown Casino) will cease being under the control of these duopolists. Individual clubs and pubs will be able to bid for up to 115 machines each.
Mr Brumby said the move will help reduce problem gambling – I don’t see how. It will mean that more of the rents from the machines go into the public purse – this is a good thing – but I cannot see how that will reduce problem gambling. To the extent that lower gambling prices are driven by increased competition more gambling will be encouraged. But I guess the government can invest more in restoring the lives of families ruined by gambling.
The decision to get tough with these anti-social corporate nasties is a surprising one since past premier Bracks was a total wimp in taking on the anti-social pro-gambling lobby. This was hardly suprising given the number of ex Labor Party pollies and party hacks working for the gaming industry in Victoria.
I’ll update with further information as it comes to hand. I am mainly interested in the terms of the new pokie contracts. Will it be possible to phase these socially destructive bandits out of the community entirely? I understand the new licences will be for 10 rather than 20 years and while Tabcorp/Tattersalls can bid for pokies their share cannot exceed 35% of the market. Tattersals has said it will try to buy up gaming venues which might undermine Brumby’s plan.
Update: Brumby has said that he will not compensate Tattersalls and TabCorp for the $600 each claimsa they are owed given that their licenses have not been renewed. the firms claim this is an ambit claim by the Premier and that they will sue if necessary. The shares of nboth companies have been suspended on the sharemarket. (167)