Earlier this week the SA Best Party announced that it is giving up its efforts to enact a total ban on the controversial slot machines that would have included pubs and hotels. SA Best is the party of Aussie anti-gambling zealot Nick Xenophon, which makes the defeat all the more significant.
Though Xenophon is the face of Australia’s anti-gambling movement, the cessation of hostilities statement from the SA Best party came from their newest candidate, candidate for Schubert, Paul Brown at a gathering of mental health professionals.
In his statement, Brown acknowledged the futility of the pokie ban and admitted it was, “not a realistic ambition.”
According to the Australian news site InDaily, Brown went on to say:
You can’t remove pokies from every hotel and pub but you can have some control. 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.
The SA Best’s reversal on the pokie ban is a huge win for the Australian Hotels Association (AHA) who had been taunted by Xenophon over what the ban would do to their businesses. As recently as December, the SA Best leader said:
SA Best will announce a poker machine policy very soon [and] I expect the AHA will be even more worried.
Xenophon’s political opponents were quick to seize on his admission of defeat calling it a, “huge admission.”
While the SA Best and Xenophon have given up on fighting pokies, it’s unlikely that they’ll be supporting the gaming industry in any meaningful manner as a result of their admission.
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