Australian gambling juggernaut Federal Group is no longer taking threats to eliminate pokies in Tasmanian pubs and clubs sitting down.
The company, which has been holding the exclusive right to operate casinos, pokies, and keno throughout Tasmania, is now on the offensive via a series of advertisements defending poker machines, ABC News reported.
The advertisements feature 11 real-life staff who are worried about their futures should the government decide to remove all pokies in pubs and clubs. Federal Group Managing Director Greg Farrell said the workers participated in the advertisements of their own volition and that no one forced them to act in front of the camera.
“They gave up their holidays to film content for the campaign, providing unscripted responses to questions on their feelings about Tasmania, Federal Group and the future,” Farrell said, according to the news outlet. “There are sensible options for the future of Tasmania’s gaming industry but Labor and the Greens’ policy goes too far.”
The pokies issue has recently taken center stage in Tasmania’s politics ahead of the March elections.
Last week, Tasmania’s ruling Liberal Party proposed to let poker machines remain in pubs and clubs until 2043. The political group, however, wanted to break up the Federal Group’s pokies monopoly and allow pubs and clubs to directly license their own machines from the government.
If the Liberals have their way, the number of pokies in clubs and pubs would be capped at 2,350 and venues would be allowed to take a larger return from the machines.
The opposition Labor Party, on the other hand, wants Tasmania to become the second state in Australia to have pokies-free pubs and clubs.
In response to the new Federal ads, Labor leader Rebecca White said she wasn’t surprised about the “scare tactics” of the gaming industry.
“That being health, education, public safety and making sure people can get a job and enjoy a quality life here in Tasmania,” she said, according to the news outlet. “I’ve no doubt there will be vested interests who’ll run ads who promote their own position. But to us the evidence is clear that poker machines are damaging our community.”