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Pokie leak turns into a flood

Pokie leak turns into a flood

Green MP Sue Bradford said the flood of gambling machines entering New Zealand while parliament discusses new gambling laws won't be stopped by George Hawkins' 'leaky' Responsible Gambling Bill.

The Greens Gambling spokesperson is outraged new figures show 1300 new machines were imported in the December quarter while a flawed bill is being considered in Parliament.

"Pokie profiteers are trying to milk every last cent out of the community before there are possible law changes, yet the realisation is that this bill will not, and cannot, halt the proliferation of these machines," said Ms Bradford.

"What this shows is the need for a national limit on the number of pokie machines to stop this plague hitting our poorest communities. Individual limits of nine machines per venue won't stop five, six or even one hundred of these dens of despair sucking the life out of single communities.

"If George Hawkins wants to get serious about this problem, he should take a look around his own electorate at how strip malls of pokie parlours are replacing valuable businesses in a once thriving township."

Ms Bradford said a recent speech by Mr Hawkins, the Minister of Internal Affairs, lamented the diminishing funds for the Lottery Grants Board but provided no answers to an obvious problem.

"Maybe he's still under the weather with leaky building syndrome, but the answer is abundantly clear - while pokie numbers have exploded, funds for the Lottery Grants Board have diminished.

"This is a complete lose-lose situation for the community - groups lose funding from the Board, while people get trapped in a spiral of pokie debt.

"We need to get the Responsible Gambling Bill right first time. We need to cap the numbers of machines available and we need to redistribute the profits from these demonstrably corrupt private trusts back into the community through the Lottery Grants Board.

"Anything else is irresponsible."

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