Tasmanian RSL clubs have announced they will ditch all poker machines from the middle of the year out of concern for the wellbeing of veterans and their families.
The organisation said they had “no other choice” after realising the damage poker machines were doing to already vulnerable people.
RSL Tasmania chief executive John Hardy said Melbourne University research revealed people who left the military for medical reasons were at particular risk of getting hooked on the machines.
“RSL Tasmania is about making Tasmania a place where veterans and their families can thrive. If we're not about that, then why is there an RSL?” he said.
“If it's not about commemoration, if it's not about veterans, if it's not about recognition of service and if it's not about families of veterans, then it's a bar. It's a sports bar, or it's a pokie den. That's not an RSL.”
Hardy said the decision was not political, nor did it have anything to do with new laws in the state that required punters to use cashless gaming cards that would cap losses at $100 a day or $5000 a year.
He acknowledged that the move might affect RSL membership but insisted the organisation needed to stay true to its purpose.
The move does not affect clubs that have RSL in their name but have no connection to the organisation.