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1416 pokies a mere drop in the ocean


22 September, 2003

1416 pokies a mere drop in the ocean

Green MP Sue Bradford said today that the enforced return of only 1416 out of 23,000 pokie machines exposes the Government's Gambling Act for the farce that it is.

Restrictions imposed by the Gambling Act come in to force today allowing only nine machines per venue for those licensed after October 17, 2001. Pokie operators have until midnight tonight to remove excess machines - although there will hardly be a flood of returns.

According to the Department of Internal Affairs, the restrictions will affect 1416 machines out of the 22,971 that were in operation as of June 30, 2003.

"The removal of only 1416 machines today shows just how ineffectual the Government's Gambling Act will be," said Ms Bradford, the Green Gambling spokesperson.

"There is a huge gambling problem in New Zealand caused by the 23,000 pokie machines sucking the life out of communities. The removal of six per cent of these machines is no more than a drop in the ocean in trying to fix this problem.

"What the Government has effectively said is 'it's okay if you got in first'. They've made the winners' circle so big that the only losers are gambling addicts, the community and the operators of 1416 machines.

"George Hawkins should hang his head in shame. This Act is nothing more than a sop to the industry and he knows that."

Ms Bradford revealed that if all pokie venues were limited to nine machines, regardless of the date they were licensed, then 8733 would be affected.

"If they had had the good sense to apply the nine machines per site rule for every venue in the country, then we could have seen a 38 per cent reduction in machines rather than a six per cent reduction.

"At least this would have made some impact for the thousands of people and their families caught in the grip of gambling addiction," said Ms Bradford.

ENDS

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