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Industry Stoops To New Lows To Hook Smokers

Gambling Industry Stoops To New Lows To Hook Smokers

2 March, 2004
Gambling industry stoops to new lows to hook smokers

New Zealand's gambling industry is seeking ways to keep smokers hooked on pokie machines once smoking is banned in bars and restaurants from December this year, Green MP Sue Bradford revealed today.

Ms Bradford, the Green Gambling spokesperson, said an Australian report circulating in the New Zealand gambling industry shows the industry is preparing a series of psychological tricks to keep gamblers spending after smoking becomes banned.

A "disgusted" pokie industry insider provided Ms Bradford with the report, prepared by psychologists at the Barrington Centre for the Australian gambling company Tattersalls. It makes suggestions on how to keep pokie profits high, in spite of the expected decline in pokie profits after the smokefree laws come into effect.

"This report shows that the New Zealand gambling industry is willing to target and manipulate the vulnerable to squeeze more money out of them," said Ms Bradford. "Tattersalls abandoned this report once it was leaked to the Australian media but the New Zealand industry continue to study the report for tips."

The report says that 'smoking is a powerful reinforcement for the trance-inducing rituals associated with gambling' and having to go outside to have a cigarette will interrupt that trance and smokers may 'be tempted to go home rather than play on' and might think 'playing the pokies is a waste of money'.

"Instead of accepting that if people go outside to have a cigarette and then leave, which is their right, the gambling industry is secretly developing tricks to make them stay. Do they have no principles whatsoever?"

Under the section 'How to encourage people who are smokers to continue gambling in non-smoking environments', the report suggests that:

* staff congratulate players after each win and machines flash signs like "you're a legend";

* when players look ready to leave staff should offer incentives of food, beverages, or free games to stay;

* promotions be offered, such as "guess the name of the new staff member";

* near-misses be increased because 'Frustration Theory' says that frustration energizes behaviour;

* child care, lending facilities, personal cheque facilities and ATMs are provided;

* ATMs and smoking facilities are positioned within view of gaming machines;

* pokie bars have a reservation policy so smokers can reserve machines to have a cigarette "this requires individuals to return to reserve machines and entices them to play 'their' machine';

* "research indicates red lights in the venues had a less inhibitory effect than blue lights".

"Looking at the pattern of behaviour the gambling industry has exhibited since the Responsible Gambling Act came about, it confirms that the only responsibility this industry has is to hook gamblers into pouring more money into pokie machines," said Ms Bradford.

A copy of the report is available on request


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