A Pokie Free Auckland
16 March 2004
A Pokie Free Auckland
"Auckland City should aim to be pokie free by 2010" says Alliance Leader Matt McCarten. In a submission to the Council's Draft Gambling Venue Policy, the Alliance Party is calling for the Council to begin decreasing the number of pokie venues in the city by refusing all new pokie venue licenses.
"Pokie machines are strategically sited in the most deprived areas of this city and played by people who can least afford to lose money through gambling. It is in these areas that pokie addiction is growing. Increasing the number of pokie venues will only exacerbate the problem.
We are calling for Auckland City Council to endorse a "No More Pokies" policy by agreeing to issue no further new class 4 venue licences."
In its submission the Alliance describes how pokie machines in Auckland city are sited in the poorest areas. "Pokie machines are knowingly sited in the poorer areas of the city where they will get the biggest return. The profits flow back into the more affluent suburbs where the pokie trusts, societies and sports clubs (but not the machines) are domiciled."
The submission argues that licensing further pokies will simply exacerbate the growing problem of gambling addiction among people who already strapped for cash, "85% of all new problem gamblers seeking treatment in New Zealand are addicted to pokie machines. For women the figure is even worse at 93%. The experts tell us that pokie addiction is growing at over 30% a year.
From 3 July to 3 December last year, in Auckland PGFNZ saw 647 new clients in Auckland 549 of these (85%) had pokie addictions. "In 2002, $770 million was lost in New Zealand non-casino pokies and in 2003 it went up to $941 million. PGFNZ estimates that over 50 cents of ever dollar going into a pokie machine comes from the pocket of a problem gambler."
The Alliance is also calling for greater Council scrutiny of the funding decisions made by the 28 trusts, foundations and societies and the 50 clubs that distribute pokie proceeds to ensure that each grant is actually for the greater good of the community.
"At present there are some very dubious funding awards being made. We are asking the Council to demand more accountability of the trusts, foundations and clubs that distribute pokie profits to ensure that the community does reap some benefit."