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Greens back Gamble Free Day

31 August 2006

Greens back Gamble Free Day

Green Party MP Sue Bradford is encouraging New Zealanders to join together tomorrow to show their concerns over the harm problem gambling does to individuals, families and communities.

Spokesperson for Gambling Issues Ms Bradford will take part in a rally at Parliament at 9am to mark Gamble Free Day. At the event 1000 helium balloons will be released in recognition of the estimated 100,000 problem gamblers in New Zealand

Other events are being held around New Zealand including a picket in Auckland at midday, outside the Jokers Bar 185 Great South Rd, Manurewa. The aim is to protest about the way pokie proprietors are sucking money out of the local area, one of the poorest communities in New Zealand.

Last year $1.8 million of community funding from the Jokers Bar went to organisations outside Manurewa. Of this $1.18 million went to South Island organisations. A total of $5.4 million was lost by Manurewa gamblers at Jokers Bar last year.

"We believe we should continue to reduce the number of non-casino gaming machines available in this country as speedily as possible. Pokies inflict huge harm - they are the primary form of gambling for 81 percent of people who use problem gambling services," Ms Bradford says.

"The impact of problem gambling can be seen in the ever increasing numbers of people who come before the courts and end up in jail because of their addiction.

"It also disproportionately impacts on low-income families, with over 60 percent of problem gamblers coming from low socioeconomic areas.

Pokie proprietors deliberately target low income districts like South Auckland, and at a minimum we believe the proceeds of gambling that come from these areas should go back to the local district rather than being siphoned off to other, more affluent areas, Ms Bradford says.

"We call on other political parties to support the Greens in demanding amendments to the Gambling Act which would enable local councils to have more control over pokies in their districts, and to reform the way pokie profits are distributed to make it more accountable.

"Problem gambling has become so serious in this country as a result of the proliferation of pokies that I believe MPs from all parties should support these and other measures to reduce and mitigate the harm being done every day."

ENDS

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