Cap on Pokie Machine Numbers Sets Good Precedent

Family First NZ is welcoming the decision by Hutt City councillors to reduce the numbers of pokie machines in the city, and is encouraging other cities such as Hamilton and the Far North who are currently considering their policy to do likewise.

“There are far too many pokie machines in our communities. Recent figures showed 1 machine for every 146 kiwis, yet 1 for every 4000 in US. This has improved slightly since the Gambling Act of 2003 – but is still way too high,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ.

“The targeting of gambling venues in lower socio-economic areas proves that they are being targeted at vulnerable people. This is known as ‘Social Banditry’. A 2002/03 New Zealand Health Survey showed almost two thirds of problem gamblers lived in 40 per cent of New Zealand’s most socio-economically deprived areas.”

“Problem gambling is strongly associated with risky drinking behaviour and smoking. Other health problems for gamblers include stress-related health problems, major mental problems, and medical conditions.”

“Of most concern is the impact on families including domestic violence, unsupervised children, children going without food clothes and other necessities, and US research suggesting a link between gambling and physical and emotional abuse,” says Mr McCoskrie.

“Children of problem gamblers were reported to be two to three times more likely to be abused by both the gambler and his or her spouse than their peers. A 2005 study on assault found that a woman whose partner was a problem gambler is 10.5 times more likely to be a victim of violence from her partner than partners of a non-problem gambler.”

“While we acknowledge that the community benefits from the grants made by gambling trusts, the social costs and net losses of participants outweigh the community gains. Community groups are relying on the funding of Gambling Trusts because of the lack of support from central government and the promotion of philanthropy. Government funding must be made available to compensate for the potential reduction in gambling trust funding,” says Mr McCoskrie.

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