The State Government will reap an extra $20 million in poker machine revenue each year until 2006-07 despite the ‘window-dressing’ gaming machine buy-back which starts today, Shadow Treasurer Rob Lucas said.
Figures from the State Budget reveal poker machine intake will rise from $302m in 2004-05 to about $344m in 2006-07.
Mr Lucas said the figures were evidence that the much-hyped poker machine buy-back scheme would do little, if anything, to reduce the incidence of problem gambling.
“How on earth can this scheme help problem gamblers when the government’s own figures show revenue from poker machines will jump by more than $20 million each year until 2006-07?” he asked.
“The fact is the Rann Government’s approach to problem gambling has always been flawed, because a cut in poker machine numbers alone does nothing to help problem gamblers.
“There needs to be better access to counselling services and increased funding to churches and welfare agencies that are forced to deal with problem gamblers because the State Government has wiped its hands.
“Last year the Opposition and Upper House Independents forced the Rann Government kicking and screaming to legislate for a $2 million injection of money into the Gamblers Rehabilitation Fund.
“The government seems happy to chase headlines with its failed poker machine buy-back scheme, but is comfortable to leave problem gamblers with little additional support.
“Quite clearly, the Premier has been caught out again with his ‘spin rather than substance’ approach to government.”