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Greens take aim in "pokie" war

Greens take aim in "pokie" war

The 30 per cent explosion in spending on "pokies" has hardened Green MP Sue Bradford's resolve to tighten the Responsible Gambling Bill due before Parliament this year.

Ms Bradford said Internal Affairs' figures showing New Zealanders spent 30 per cent more on pokies last year compared to the year before confirmed the Green Party position that there had to be a crack-down on the proliferation of non-casino gaming machines.

"The Responsible Gambling Bill does not go far enough," Ms Bradford said.

"I will be pushing for tighter provisions to limit the number of pokie machines. The bill must also be changed to give local government and local communities the power to stop pokie parlours being set up in their areas."

The Green Party was working very closely with Local Government New Zealand and groups concerned about the negative effect of pokies on their communities to achieve these goals.

Ms Bradford said a concerning aspect of the proliferation of pokies in the community was the targeting of those who could least afford to gamble.

"All sorts of people use the machines, but there is a deliberate strategy by the machine owners to put them into communities with a high proportion of low-income earners."

Ms Bradford said another concerning aspect of the Internal Affairs figures was the ever-decreasing amount of money going towards Lotteries Grants, which meant less money going into community good through a publicly accountable system.

"This means more gambling money going into private hands, which is another matter I hope to work with other parties to change when the Responsible Gambling Bill comes back into Parliament."

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