The report found that the most significant quantifiable cost of gambling was the AU$57m cost associated with relationship breakdowns, followed by psychological distress of problem gamblers and their immediate family.
The prevalence of gambling in Tasmania did, however, decline from 72% in 2008 to 47% in 2020, with Finance Minister Michael Ferguson noting that “Tasmania has the lowest per capita expenditure on gambling of all the states at AU$733 per adult compared with the Australian average of AU$1277.”
Expenditure of electronic gaming machines has also dropped, falling from AU$204m to AU$174m.
But according to Nelson independent MLC and anti-pokies campaigner, Meg Webb, gambling expenditure remains high, and is now concentrated in a smaller section of the state’s population.
“We can easily make pokies safer in Tasmania without affecting recreational use or jobs,” said Webb. “Yet the government is still prepared to abandon the tens of thousands of Tasmanians being harmed by poker machines.
“The issue is even larger than these figures represent, which is confirmed by the elevated losses we continue to see, month after month.”