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Anderton Isues Gambling Machine Warning

Anderton Isues Gambling Machine Warning

Jim Anderton today warned the Christchurch City Council against lifting their 2004 moratorium on licensing non-casino gaming machines. He said that maintaining the status quo, by continuing the current moratorium, would mean making a positive impact on problem gambling, in the poorest areas in Christchurch. It would also give out a message that Council wants to maintain a socially responsible position on problem gambling.

Problem Gambling statistics indicate that gaming machines are the most harmful form of gambling. There is now considerable evidence to show that increases in the availability of gambling means an increase in the prevalence of problem gambling.

"Lifting the moratorium will increase the number of gaming machines in Christchurch. But more specifically, they will go into the areas where people are least able to afford to gamble. Research is showing us loud and clear that those most hard up are most attracted to this type of gambling and the gaming machines end up in their suburbs.

"This is evident in Christchurch where, in 2003, Council identified that the Wigram ward had 212 machines compared to Fendalton which had only 29. Studies show that lower-income households spend proportionately more of their money on gambling than higher-income households and this would bear out why my electorate has a lot more pokie machines than Fendalton," Jim Anderton said.

Problem gambling has significant economic, social and health costs. These include financial costs, effects on productivity and employment, crime, personal and family impacts and treatment costs. It causes more deprivation and sadness for families that have adult members who are hooked," Jim Anderton said.

"I hope the Council sees sense on this issue and maintains the moratorium. It hasn't been decided yet, but the fact that it is a 'preferred option' awaiting a decision by councillors disturbs me deeply. I campaigned years ago to have a referendum on the issue of gaming machines. In the end it was decided that Councils, in conjunction with the community through the District Plan, make the decisions on having the pokies machines in their area.

"There certainly have been victories for the anti-gambling lobby during the terms of the Labour-Progressive government. The new laws are working and are incrementally reducing the number of machines in our cities and towns. No responsible, elected body should think that less gambling machines is anything but good news," Jim Anderton said.

Ends

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