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Progressives Favour Cut In Gaming Machine Numbers

27 August 2003

Hon Jim Anderton MP, Progressive Leader

Progressives Favour Cut, National Cap On Gaming Machine Numbers

The Progressive Party favours cutting the number of gaming - or pokie - machines around New Zealand and then capping their numbers, its leader, Jim Anderton, said today.

The Responsible Gambling Bill is expected to have its committee stage reading at some time in the next few weeks.

"The Progressive Party expects the law changes will make a positive contribution to enhancing the well-being of our communities. They will tackle some of the well-known contributors to the incidence of poverty afflicting some parts of our society," the Progressive leader said.

"All MPs who have contact with their communities know that for some families gambling is not a simple issue of personal choice or individual freedom. As serious parliamentarians, we need to take into account the liberty and freedom of the children of those afflicted by chronic gambling problems.

"The Progressives have signalled that, if necessary, we will move a Supplementary Order Paper requiring that a national cap on gaming machine numbers be set at the level of October 17, 2001 – the date the coalition government announced that it was proceeding with a responsible gambling regime," Jim Anderton said.

"Our Labour coalition partner has been informed of the Progressive Party's position on the Responsible Gambling Bill and we have agreed to differ," he added.

Jim Anderton said that his party will move to amend some clauses in the Bill to strengthen the legislation which is aimed at facilitating responsible gambling, ensure the integrity and fairness of games and permit more community control over the industry.

The Bill as a whole needs the support of 61 MPs to guarantee becoming law. It has the support of 62 MPs representing the Labour, Progressive and United Future parties.

The Progressives agree with the majority view of a recent select committee report that recommended Parliament forbid banknote acceptor devices to be used in New Zealand, a stance recommended by some community groups that have studied ways of tackling the chronic gambling problems that afflict some families.

Background:
A quarter of all regular gaming-machine users experience gambling problems. There is a link between the number of pokies, the total losses on them, and the level of problem gambling.

In October 2001, there were 2,095 gaming-machine sites in New Zealand, with 20,597 machines. At 30 June this year, there were 25,221 gaming machines located in 2,122 gaming-machine sites.

The intention of the bill is to limit opportunities for crime, dishonesty, and exploitation of the vulnerable by facilitating direct community involvement in decisions about the legislative provisions for gambling.

The bill introduces measures to enhance the accountability and transparency of the gambling system and improvements to the level of community input into determining the number and location of non-casino gaming-machines.

ENDS

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