Federal Group Not Protecting Problem Gamblers
The monopoly secured by Federal Group over the gambling industry in Tasmania has recently been under heavy scrutiny for not doing enough to protect problem gamblers. The Third Social and Economic Impact Study of Gambling in Tasmania released in November of 2015 gives some questionable insights into whether or not Federal Group is living up to their part of the bargain.
Problem gambling is a big source of revenue in the gambling industry. The money spent by problem gamblers can make up nearly half of all money earned by live casinos. This leads to a serious conflict of interest for casinos who sign agreements to help prevent problem gambling and establish player protection.
The current deed provided to Federal Group places them under legal obligation to “continue to improve player protection measures and to support the Crown’s initiatives in that field.” Federal Group claims to take that roll seriously and says they are “strongly supportive of a regulatory environment that is stable and strikes the right balance between harm minimization, individual freedom and industry development.” They have instituted responsible gambling managers to supervise and coordinate minimization activities and they also participate in the problem gamblers exclusion program. Unfortunately the statistics don’t paint the same picture as what is presented on Federal Group’s website.
The population of Tasmania is around 515,000 people. The Third Social and Economic Impact Study of Gambling in Tasmania showed that out of Tasmanian citizens 0.5% were classified as problem gamblers, 1.8% were classified as moderate risk gamblers, and 3.9% were classified as low risk gamblers in 2013 (combined 6.2%, or 31,930 people). Per capita, this statistic is roughly three times the national average of at risk or problem gamblers, being just 2% in Australia.
Besides having three times the rate of at risk gamblers per capita in the state of Tasmania, the amount of money earned by Federal Group off of this small gambling population is enormous. The problem gamblers and at risk gamblers make up 41% of the total gambling expenditure in the state, or 127.1 million a year. This equates to $3,980 per person per year in the problem and at risk categories. Because of the fact Federal Group has not proven they have sufficiently improved player protection, along with many other reasons, state lawmakers have decided not to extend Federal Group’s monopoly beyond it’s expiration date of 2023. One industry professional, David Walsh, has already been promised a license in Tasmania to open a casino alongside his MONA museum. David Walsh has even proposed serious steps to protect Tasmania’s problem gamblers by not allowing Tasmanian citizens to play at the tables of the new casino. He has also suggested that the casino will not have poker machines and that all revenue earned by the casino will go towards the MONA museum and other similar projects.