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Labour creating yet more problem-gambling

2 April 2008

Labour creating yet more problem-gambling communities

An admission in Parliament today by Internal Affairs Minister Rick Barker that the Government could extend online gambling to highly addictive instant computer games is a further sign Labour has sacrificed family values for money, Green Party Spokesperson on Gambling Sue Bradford says.

"I was astonished that Mr Barker, when asked by me for assurances the Lotteries Commission would not extend online gaming to instant games, did not rule out such a move and seemed to endorse it by saying there would be tough scrutiny by the Government and the risk of harm would be 'minimised'," Ms Bradford says.

"I was further amazed he fobbed off my concerns about vulnerable people having to use credit cards, accruing up to 24.9% interest, to participate in this new government initiative by saying 'this is the only way it [on-line gambling] could be financed'."

Ms Bradford called on the Government to use the Gambling Amendment Bill, currently before Parliament, as an opportunity to repeal the law so the Lotteries Commission could not introduce any form of on-line gambling.

"Labour has lost its way over gambling.

"Rick Barker seemed to be on a different planet when I asked him about the fact that many people, and especially beneficiaries, could not afford to spend the $150 weekly limit on on-line lotto.

"It is time the minister and his colleagues moved out of their high-salaried circles and talked to the many people in their traditional constituencies who would like to see gambling opportunities hugely reduced, not increased.

"Online gaming is aimed directly at groups of people who are very vulnerable to potential gambling harm - beneficiaries and others who are often quite lonely and spend a lot of time on their computers without a lot of other social interactions.

"The minister seems to think that putting some safety features around online gambling is enough to justify what is simply a push by the Lotteries Commission to maximise profits at the expense of ordinary people who are at risk from the temptations of online gaming."

ENDS

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