The number of people employed in the gambling industry in Tasmania, Australia, is really about 1,500 and not the 4,000 suggested in the latest government-commissioned social and economic impact study, says the Australia Institute Tasmania.

The Hobart-based think tank is questioning the figures and quoting new ones from the Australian Bureau of Statistics. The Tasmanian Joint Select Committee on Future Gaming Markets is currently considering the future of gambling machines, known as poker machines in Australia.

The Australia Institute Tasmania conducted its own research into the economic modeling used for forecasting the impact on employment that would come with any phasing out of gaming machines in the state.

“There is a massive gulf in the job numbers between the ABS and the number in the report commissioned by the Tasmanian government, says the Institute. “We are concerned that the government is counting all employment by businesses with a gambling licence as if those jobs are entirely involved in gambling. This is despite the businesses themselves saying only 19 per cent of their employees are working in gambling roles.”

The Institute asserts that “under most models” the cost of poker machine-related problem gambling, which it states was “up to A$184m in 2011” far exceeded the revenue gained from machine taxes and fees, $53.4m in 2016. The research, it said, concluded that more transparent and robust modeling was required to accurately assess the impact to GDP from a phase-out of poker machines.