Plea to Send Pokie Bill to Select Committee for Debate

Family First NZ is pleading with National, ACT and United Future MP’s to send Te Ururoa Flavell’s pokie machine bill to a Select Committee so that the lid can be lifted on the issue of problem gambling and also the appropriate allocation of proceeds from the machines.

“Problem gambling not only affects the individuals involved, but also their families – and ultimately society has to pick up the pieces,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ. “It’s time that we confronted the issue of the high proliferation of machines – especially in the most socio-economically deprived areas,”

“A 2008 study outlined the socio-economic impact of gambling, stating that there are many tangible and intangible costs on health and wellness, including poor health or morbidity, stress, depression and anxiety, suicide or other premature mortality, substance abuse (alcohol, tobacco and illicit drugs related to gambling), and loss of value of time with family and friends.

“The Australian Productivity commission found that 5 to 10 other people can be directly affected to varying degrees by the behaviour of a problem gambler.”

There are far too many pokie machines in our communities. Recent figures show 1 machine for every 180 kiwis, yet 1 for every 4000 in US.

Significant risk factors include being between 25-34, Maori or Pacific ethnicity, lower educational attainment, being employed and living alone. 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

“The government says that this bill will not ‘minimise the harm caused while maximizing the returns to the community’ yet they seem unwilling to engage in a debate on the issue.”

“We would ask them to allow the debate to happen.”

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