Govt Deal with Gambling Industry Bad for Families

Media Release 12 Nov 2013
Family First NZ says that the passing of the New Zealand International Convention Centre Bill today is morally bankrupt and that the government should be encouraging tourists to come to New Zealand to see the country and our culture – not casinos.

“Governments should not fund projects on the back of gambling losses. This deal will only hurt families, and there is still debate over the need for the Centre at all. This deal may be fiscally good, but it’s morally bankrupt. Governments should not be cheerleaders for casinos and the gambling industry,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ.

“The law change necessary for the deal is completely contrary to the Gambling Act which seeks to reduce gambling harm. 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.”

“New Zealand studies have found that gaming machines are associated with harm more often than any other form of gambling. Pokie machines have been referred to as ‘mechanical pickpockets’. Today’s pokie machines are designed to be the most addictive form of gambling ever developed. Addiction counselors and psychologists are calling video gambling the “crack cocaine” of the gambling industry. People are becoming addicted to these machines within a year,” says Mr McCoskrie.

“We’re also concerned that the process was not robust. There were four other interested parties in building the convention centre. The Deputy Auditor-General was concerned with how unfairly they were treated in the tendering process. What has been shown is that the Convention Centre – if needed – could be built without a mass increase in pokie machines.”

“It is ironic that the government is targeting loan sharks at the same time as increasing the number of pokie machines,” says Mr McCoskrie.

“And with the Auckland Council-approved super brothel soon to be built across the road, this area will quickly become the seedy capital of Auckland, rather than the family-focused tourist attraction that the Sky Tower should be.”

“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.

“A government partnership with the gambling industry spells bad news for families.”

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