“Public demand for this type of gaming is unquestionable,” the minutes state.
People were staying away from clubs after the introduction of the 0.05 per cent alcohol limit for drivers and random breath testing, a cabinet submission from January reveals.
“In addition, a significant number of clubs, in particular RSL clubs, were dependent upon income from illegal gambling on in-line machines, and with the removal of such machines from clubs as a consequence of revelations during the Fitzgerald inquiry, a number of clubs could be regarded as insolvent.”
At the time, Queenslanders had to cross the border to play the pokies, making clubs such as Twin Towns and Seagulls at Tweed Heads enormously profitable.
It was expected the state government would rake in $35 million in 1990-91, rising to about $90 million in future years.
In 2020, taxes on pokies are expected to pour $773 million into Queensland government coffers, the latest budget forecasts.
The Goss cabinet agreed to repeal regulations introduced only months earlier under the previous Russell Cooper-led Coalition government that enabled the operation of gaming machines without safeguards.
Cabinet agreed to draft legislation, and the Mr Goss assured Parliament on March 20, 1990, that his government was “pursuing a course of action that we are very confident will eliminate any possibility of corruption [and] will ensure strict control”.
“I wish I’d never brought in poker machines, I think they’re a scourge,” he said.
“Introducing poker machines to give clubs a fair go was Labor Party policy for a long time, and we implemented it.
“Unfortunately, it went too far and it was expanded into hotels, and under the subsequent Coalition government, it was expanded even further.
“The problem with poker machines, in my view, is that the people who mainly play them are the people who can least afford to do so.
“I wish I hadn’t done it.”
Mr Goss died in November 2014.
Queenslanders have lost more than $1 billion to pokies in clubs and hotels so far in 2020.
Felicity Caldwell is state political correspondent at the Brisbane Times