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Tighter controls on pokies needed

23 March 2007

Tighter controls on pokies needed

Green Party Gambling Spokesperson Sue Bradford says tighter controls are needed on the gambling industry, and particularly on pokie machines.

"There is increasing evidence that not only are pokies damaging in their effect on people, they are also actually deliberately designed to be harmful," Ms Bradford told crowds at an event in Otara today.

"The gambling industry has a vested interest in getting people, whole communities and community sector organisations hooked on pokies and these machines are designed to do just that.

"Since pokies were introduced, technology has advanced and these machines are being increasingly designed to seduce and addict people. This is an unsafe product and should be treated as such" Ms Bradford says.

Ms Bradford took part in two events in Auckland today to mark the launch of a social marketing campaign aimed at highlighting the damage caused to families, communities and society by problem gambling.

She joined with community leaders, politicians and Otara residents to call for tighter legislative reins to be put on New Zealand's gambling industry at the Rise Up! Concert in Otara Shopping Centre. She also attended a forum in Three Kings discussing issues relating to Asian gambling.

New Zealanders lose about $5.5 million a day through gambling, and it's estimated that about 50,000 adults may have a serious problem. One in three people seeking help from food banks in some areas are doing so due to gambling.

Ms Bradford is hoping to there will be an opportunity later this year to strengthen laws surrounding gambling.

"The Government is likely to put forward legislation amending the Gambling Act as the former 'Responsible Gambling Bill' comes up for its three year review.

"It is time for action on the harm being done by pokie machines. We need to put in place major reforms on gambling - not to just tinker around the edges.

"The Greens fought hard a few years back to improve the law around gambling and pokies but unfortunately the Government didn't take things as far as we would have liked. Crucially, control over numbers, locations and licences should be vested in local government."

ENDS

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