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Record pokie increases despite new laws

28 October 2006

Some areas record pokie increases despite new laws

Three years on from the introduction of the new Gambling Act, designed 'to control the growth of gambling', sixteen local authority areas have recorded increases in the numbers of pokie machines within their boundaries. [Act commenced on 22nd September 2003]

Gambling Issues lobby group GamblingWatch pointed out that "while almost 90% of people presenting with gambling addiction problems are citing pokie machines as the primary cause of their problem, and a major purpose of the Gambling Act is ' to prevent and minimize the harm caused by gambling', these increases in opportunities for harmful gambling show that the Act is not working well for all New Zealanders."

Co-ordinator Dave Macpherson said some of the biggest increases since the Act was brought in were in areas of previous lower pokie numbers.

"It appears the pokie trusts who own the machines may be withdrawing them from previously over-saturated areas and setting them up in areas that had not seen such great problems in the past."

"And it further seems that in these areas the local council venue policies required under the Act cannot ensure that the purposes of the Act are met."

The worst offending areas were Matamata-Piako, where a 30% increase in pokie numbers occurred, Gore (up 27%), Otorohanga (up 24%), North Shore and Papakura (both up 23%).

"These areas contrast markedly with a 10% nationwide reduction in pokie numbers," Mr Macpherson said.

"Local councils in all areas are required to review their gambling venue policies over the next few months, so you would expect councils in these areas to have a long, hard look at their previous, obviously liberal, policies and to tighten them up."

"GamblingWatch and local residents in these areas will certainly be reminding those Councils of their responsibilities under the Act."

ENDS



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