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Pokie claims avoid the real issue of harm

Hamilton Mayor Andrew King says recent media comments by SkyCity about his discussions with council-funded organisations are a blatant attempt to distract the public from the issue of the harm caused by pokie machines.

Sky City has applied to the Gambling Commission to add 60 pokie machines in the Hamilton Casino, an application opposed by Hamilton City Council and health, community and social organisations.

“SkyCity have made comments in media claiming I have had inappropriate discussions with council-funded groups to discuss the Council’s position. I reject that. I believe SkyCity are trying to personalise this into an issue between me and them, rather than acknowledging our submission is the formal view of Hamilton City Council, as resolved by our elected members on behalf of our community,” Mayor King says.

“We have a responsibility to take a leadership position and do the right thing by our community. This is not my submission, this is Hamilton City Council’s.

“As Mayor, I will not apologise for speaking with key groups who receive ratepayer funding to explain our Council’s view and its values. This issue is about whether Hamilton needs another 60 pokie machines in our city, and in my view submissions that seek to endorse SkyCity without addressing any of the actual issues, add nothing to the debate,” Mayor King says.

Mayor King says he has no doubt the personal nature and language used by SkyCity is intended as a distraction.

“Our Council, and many other organisations, recognise more pokies means more harm. Profits from these machines comes straight out of the pockets of families in our communities. That’s the issue we should be talking about but it’s one SkyCity seem keen to avoid.”

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