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Battle over pokies fuels Tasmanian political drama

The battle over pokies in Australia is a political fight that’s dragged on for years, and may be getting ready to rack up a few more political casualties. Late last week, Tasmanian Labor leader Rebecca White came under heavy fire for leading her party into a classic flip-flop over the controversial gambling machines that inhabit Australia’s pubs and clubs.

At the heart of the issue is a promise by Labor to fight for a ban on pokies across the country. That effort seemed to be picking up steam over the last couple years and looked to be a political winner for Labor. All that changed quite recently when the party said it was giving up the fight completely.
The reason for the sudden retreat? In an interview with the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, Labor Leader Rebecca White explained the cold economics of fighting pokies in the Australia saying Labor lost the recent election. On top of that, the Australian government was moving forward with a new licensing scheme that would make a ban impossible until 2043 anyways.
“The fact of the matter is once they [bring forward legislation], we’re not going to be able to continue to pursue our policy to remove poker machines from pubs and clubs because there’ll be a new deal struck until 2043,” she said.
White’s political rival Premier Will Hodgman took advantage of her flip-flop to take a few political jabs saying, “It’s a little ironic that Rebecca White, who said this was a most passionate interest of hers and a concern that she believed in, has now abandoned that policy position and is calling on us to rush through legislation to implement a policy that they opposed at the election.”

For now, however, it does look as though the fight to ban pokies in Australia is over and that pokies will be part of daily life there until at least 2043.