Len Brown Should Honour Pre-Election Pledge on Pokies

Media Release 23 April 2012
Family First NZ is calling on Auckland mayor Len Brown to honour his pre-election pledge to stop additional pokie machines in the Auckland area.

In a questionnaire sent to all mayoral candidates and published on the website www.valueyourvote.org.nz at the time of the mayoral election in 2010, Len Brown was asked “Will you introduce and lobby for a reducing lid policy on pokie machines, especially in low socio-economic areas?”

His response was “I see the harm gambling addiction does to families every day. I worked with the Problem Gambling Foundation to help introduce a “no more pokies” policy in our city (you might have seen me on their advertisements). I believe communities deserve much more of a say in the location and number of gambling outlets in their area.”

“Family First is calling on the Mayor to honour that pledge and for the Auckland Council to oppose any law change which would allow the mass influx of more ‘mechanical pickpocket’ machines to Sky City. Casinos thrive on the false promise of getting rich quickly, but the reality is that those who can least afford to gamble are gambling themselves deeper into debt,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ.

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,” says Mr McCoskrie.

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 in casino carparks, children going without food clothes and other necessities, and US research suggesting a link between gambling and physical and emotional abuse,” says Mr McCoskrie.

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