Video poker (pokies) is causing controversies in Tasmania, Australia once again. The Labor party is witnessing infighting because of the issues as Tasmanian Labor Leader Rebecca White has given up her hardline stance on pokies. White told ABC recently that she would no longer fight to remove the video poker machines from clubs and pubs in the region. She gave two reasons behind the change of heart. First, they lost the elections in March 2018. Second, Premier Will Hodgman is pushing to negotiate the new license for the machine.
White also stated that she will not be able to continue to pursue their policy to remove poker machines from Tasmanian clubs and pubs as there will be a new deal struck until 2043.Hodgman, on the other hand, is accusing White of flip-flopping because of pressure from the federal party members.
Hodgman noted that it is ironic of White to give up on the issue as it was one of her most passionate interests and one of the concerns, she duly believed in. He said that now White is calling on him to rush through the legislation and implement the pokies policy that she vehemently opposed during the election.
White’s fellow members of parliament and supporters are upset with Hodgman’s views. However, it must be noted that White promised to continue fighting against the pokies even after losing the election. Greens Leader Cassy O’Connor went on to say that Labor cannot uphold a principled opposition to gambling issues. She also asked if the party could be taken if they come back to power in 2022.
Andrew Wilkie, Independent federal MP called White’s new stance on pokies a “disgusting backflip.” He said that it is a shocking policy from the federal Labor party. He noted that it is evident that the real reason behind the state Labor changing their policy on pokies is the pressure from the federal party members.
Meanwhile, Premier Hodgman and the Liberal Party is currently planning to break up the Federal Group’s monopoly in poker machines. Note that Federal Group opposed Labor in last elections. Hodgman’s plan also calls for the reduction of poker machines outside of the region’s casinos. They aim to reduce the number of such machines from 2,375 to 2,350. They will also provide licenses to more operators.
The infighting is coming at an interesting time, especially since the pokies are becoming less relevant in Tasmania. Users are now favoring online gambling over a pub visit.