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Unsafe pokies risk children’s welfare

Press Release
Unsafe pokies risk children’s welfare [21.3.05]

“Children’s welfare cannot come second to the gambling industry,” says John Stansfield, CEO of the Problem Gambling Foundation of New Zealand (PGF).

“It is disturbing how quickly pokie machines can corrupt New Zealanders into forgetting their children,” says Mr Stansfield.

“Pokie machines without appropriate safety features are designed to hook unsuspecting people into continuous gambling, which then wreaks havoc on their lives and the lives of their loved ones - particularly children,” says Mr Stansfield.

“It is a common myth that only problem gamblers suffer from the negative impacts of gambling. Research suggests up to seven people are affected by an individual’s problem gambling behaviours, including whanau and children,” he says.

“This is yet another case which could potentially have had a tragic outcome, because problem gambling can cause neglect,” says Mr Stansfield.

People playing the pokies can enter a trance-like state, and forget their responsibilities, such as children and work comments.

Last week, the Blenheim District Court heard that a young child was left in a distressed state in a hot car, while his mother gambled on the pokies.

Pop-up messages and interruptions to play on pokie machines are being introduced on all new machines from October 2005. Pop-up messages would frequently interrupt play, which would assist in breaking the trance-like state pokie players can enter.

“Both these cases could have been avoided if pop-up messages were in place on pokie machines. The mothers of the children involved would have been interrupted from their gambling, and soon realised the dangers their children were left in,” says Mr Stansfield.

"Communities expect that the welfare of a child will be provided for by their family. When problem gambling is thrown into the equation, these expectations are often not met. Children suffer from neglect, a lack of basic provisions such as food, clothing and shelter, and occasionally victims of abuse," says Mr Stansfield.

"The effects of problem gambling on children are a grave concern, and steps need to be taken to stop it."

"I am no more anti-gambling than the guy who puts seatbelts in your car is anti-driving. We just want to make these things safe."

"Communities need to know how to protect themselves from the negative impact gambling can have, all they have to do is contact us on 0800 664 262."

ENDS

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