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Saturday, December 03, 2005

Pokies outstrip health budget





The Mercury: Pokies outstrip health budget [04dec05]

TASMANIAN gamblers have put more money through poker machines in the past financial year than the total budget for the state Health Department, says the Tasmanian Council of Social Service.

TasCOSS chief executive officer Mat Rowell said the Tasmanian Gaming Commission's Annual Report for 2004-05 showed gaming activity was up 5 per cent on the previous year, with $2.18 billion going through pokies.

"This rate of growth in gambling activity cannot be sustained without it having widespread social and economic consequences through the whole community," Mr Rowell said.

He said because the Productivity Commission estimated 33 per cent of gaming revenue was generated by people with gambling problems, the financial implications for Tasmanian gambling addicts would be extreme.

"This not only has an enormous impact on their own life but also on their families, friends and community," Mr Rowell said.

"It also places a considerable burden on government and non-government health and social service programs."

He said this proved that the Gambling Social and Economic Impact Study announced last week was needed now more than ever.

"But as well as this research, we also need to see from all Tasmania's political leaders a genuine commitment to making the tough decisions that are needed to address Tasmania's gambling epidemic," he said.

"It is clear as day that the current regulation and licensing of gambling in Tasmania is not helping to stem the tide of money lost through problem gambling."

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