Tasmania’s Liberal government is currently looking into implementing facial ID technology as part of its landmark pokie reform.
The Labor opposition suggested the policies, and they want the technology to identify self-excluded problem gamblers, but they also want to implement a smart card-playing system.
Instead, the legislation would transfer that control to local clubs and pubs, and each would have complete ownership of pokie machines on their premises. The law would also change the current tax rate for these machines and Keno.
The current estimate from the government states that this new system would cost the Federal Group around $25 million every year. However, critics note the government is missing an excellent opportunity to implement measures to minimise harm to players.
The Labor opposition has promised to focus on harm minimisation, which is why they included facial ID and cashless gaming machines as part of their policy in an amendment form.
They developed the new policies after detailed discussions with organisations from the industries and other community parties. Although they have repeatedly asked for slower spin speeds and lower bet limits, these haven’t been included in the end.
Finance Minister Michael Ferguson stated that they would instruct the Liquor and Gaming Commission to investigate harm minimisation measures the Labor opposition suggested.
To the independent upper house MP and vocal anti-pokie campaigner Meg Webb, this is a clear indication that the government and the opposition are making a deal. She believes that the final agreement is in the making but will not include more effective measures for harm minimisation.
She thinks that the currently proposed measures would only address the “tip of the tip of the iceberg” as the facial ID will only target self-excluded people. At the same time, many others are addicted to pokies, and the new legislation won’t protect them.
On Thursday, the debate will start in the lower house of the state’s parliament, where the Liberals hold the majority. However, the government will find the upper house more challenging as it comprises six independents, five Labor, and only four Liberal members.
Everyone is coming into this with their own plans. The Liberal government is focusing on ending the Federal Group’s monopoly. At the same time, the Labor opposition wants to introduce harm minimisation issues, which is a lighter stance than what they had in the past. The Labors wanted to ban pokies entirely but have eventually dropped this position.
In the end, the independents want stronger harm minimisation measures, like lower maximum bet limits and longer times for playing each game.