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1 pokie machine for every 118 kiwis

15 months after new gambling laws in place – 1 pokie machine for every 118 kiwis

The latest figures from around New Zealand show that the new Gambling Act has been largely ineffective to date in curbing the numbers of pokie machines, with a drop of less than 2% in machine numbers, and with more than one-third of the cities and districts actually recording an increase in machine numbers.

Gambling reform group GamblingWatch has issued a full comparison of machine numbers at 31st December 2005, compared with those on the date the Act was introduced (September 22, 2003), and calculated the ratio of the adult population per machine in every area.

The figures show that 25,063 pokie machines were licensed at the start of the year, a drop of only 401 in the 15-month period (or 1.5%), despite strong evidence showing that about 90% of people presenting with gambling addiction problems had cited pokie machines – in bars and casinos – as the primary cause of their problem.

GamblingWatch co-ordinator Dave Macpherson said the figures “come on the back of a massive increase in pokie numbers prior to that date, and a huge increase in losses on the pokies for several years in a row.”

“It is clear that the new law, which includes provision for local councils to control new pokie sites in their areas, has not had the desired effect in significantly reducing gambling and its associated problems – principally because the Government has allowed most pokie sites to escape the new restrictions.”

Of the 74 local authority areas, 25 have actually recorded increases in pokie machine numbers, with a further seven showing no reduction (see list below).

Still ‘leading the pack’ for 3 years is Kaikoura District, with 1 pokie machine for every 48 local residents, followed by Kawerau (1:60) and Queenstown-Lakes (1:62).

On the ‘honour roll’ is Selwyn District at a ratio of 1:317, who also recorded a 31% reduction in pokie numbers over the 15 months, and the Chatham Islands (1:273).

Local Authorities showing pokie number increases since the new Act took effect:

Matamata-Piako up 35% to 198 pokies Kapiti
up 8% to 228

Gore up 32% to 83
Nelson up 8% to 341

Papakura up 24% to 229
Horowhenua up 7% to 210

Otorohanga up 24% to 41
Otago up 6% to 164

Hurunui up 23% to 81
Tasman up 6% to 228

Upper Hutt up 22% to 174
Waikato up 5% to 197

Whakatane up 18% to 251
up 4% to 120

North Shore up 17% to 626
Wellington up 4% to 1,024

Franklin up 15% to 287
Western Bay up 3% to 187

Waitakere up 11% to 495
Hastings up 2% to 380

Ashburton up 10% to 162
Hauraki up 8% to 160

Invercargill up 9% to 357
Palmerston North up 2% to 481

Dunedin up 8% to 1,001

Copy of full analysis attached, or available from http://www.gamblingwatch.org.nz/index.asp?pageID=2145830938

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