Gambling comes at a $160 million cost to Tasmania, new report finds

Gambling costs one state $160 million, report finds

Gambling is estimated to cost the Tasmanian community up to $160 million a year, the latest Social and Economic Impact Study for gaming has found.

The report, released on Thursday, found the most significant quantifiable cost of gambling was the $57 million cost attached to relationship breakdowns.

This was followed by psychological distress of problem gamblers and their immediate family.

"Gambling in Tasmania delivers benefits of between $123.3 million and $207.8 million," the report said.

"The offsetting impacts or social costs are estimated to be in the range of $48.9 million to $159.6 million.

"Deducting the costs from the benefits implies that the net benefit of gambling in Tasmania is between minus $36.3 million and $158.9 million."

Finance Minister Michael Ferguson said the prevalence of gambling in Tasmania had declined from 71.7 per cent in 2008 to 47 per cent in 2020.

"Tasmania has the lowest per capita expenditure on gambling of all the states at $733 per adult compared with the Australian average of $1277," he said.

Mr Ferguson said expenditure of electronic gaming machines had dropped by 15 per cent from the last Social and Economic Impact Study, moving down to $174 million from $204 million.

Nelson independent MLC, and anti-pokies campaigner, Meg Webb said gambling expenditure remained high and now appeared to be concentrated in a smaller proportion of the Tasmanian population.

She said poker machine losses for May were $15.1 million which was the highest figure for that month in six years.

"We can easily make pokies safer in Tasmania without affecting recreational use or jobs," Ms Webb said.

"Yet the government is still prepared to abandon the tens of thousands of Tasmanians being harmed by poker machines."

She said researchers involved in the Social and Economic Impact Study were aware the figures presented were underestimated.

"The issue is even larger than these figures represent, which is confirmed by the elevated losses we continue to see, month after month," Ms Webb said.

Mr Ferguson said the government would continue to take measures to minimise harm from gambling and support problem gamblers.

This story Gambling costs one state $160 million, report finds first appeared on The Advocate.