Habitual gambling scold Nick Xenophon’s political party has waved the white flag, conceding defeat in its war against poker machines in pubs and clubs.
InDaily reported that the SA Best party will no longer push for the total ban of pokies in pubs and clubs despite Xenophon’s earlier declaration that the Australian Hotels Association would tremble before the party’s pokies policy.
The shift was confirmed by Xenophon’s candidate for Schubert, Paul Brown, at a state election on the future of South Australia’s Mental Health sector early this week, with Brown saying that banning pokies in hotel venues was not a realistic ambition.
“You can’t remove pokies from every hotel and pub but you can have some control,” Brown said, according to the news outlet. “I acknowledge the problems that pokies cause and it does lead to mental health issues…. it’s part of the fabric that causes all these issues.”
For his part, Xenophon confirmed to ABC News that SA Best will no longer push for the statewide ban of pokies. He said SA Best will release its official pokies policy next week.
Over the past few months, Xenophon and his party had notably started toning down their anti-pokies rhetoric. Xenophon, who made a name for himself in politics 20 years ago for his “No Pokies” battle cry, made a safe answer when asked if he would ban poker machines if he held the balance of power.
While he believes reducing harm caused by poker machines is pretty fundamental, the Senate powerbroker pointed out that it has to have a suite of measures such as extending more assistance to problem gamblers.
Xenophon’s political opponents, led by Australian Conservatives leader Robert Brokenshire, quickly pounced on Brown’s comments as a “huge admission” of SA Best’s true gambling policy.
“We just heard a representative of former senator Nick Xenophon, a no-pokies man, agree that even they, in all truth, would not be able to remove all poker machines in pubs and clubs in South Australia,” Brokenshire said, according to the news report.