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Pokies pull parents, children suffer

Pokies pull parents, children suffer
Media Release: Friday 24th February 2004

“Pokie machines and kids left in cars are an imminent disaster”, says John Stansfield, CEO of the Problem Gambling Foundation of New Zealand (PGF).

This comes after reports of three Masterton women over the last month, leaving their children in hot cars, on hot days, while they gamble on pokie machines.

“The pokies are pulling parents into a trance-like state, with their lights, noises and promises of winning. Young children are left to suffer, often in hot cars in hot weather,” says Mr Stansfield.

Problem gambling affects more than the individual. Families/whanau, friends, employers and co-workers, and the wider community are all affected by an individual’s gambling problem. It can result in child neglect, theft, fraud, domestic violence, reliance on foodbanks, and in some cases, suicide.

“Child neglect of this sort is occurring more frequently, and it’s because of pokie machines. These things are dangerous, with dire consequences for families – especially young children,” says Stansfield.

“Any time children are left in cars – hot or otherwise – while their parents gamble on pokies is too many,” he says.

Recent cases of parents leaving young children in cars while gambling on pokies include:

- Wairarapa woman left young baby sweating in a locked car while she gambled on pokies in a nearby bar (February 2006)

- Masterton woman left her two babies in an unlocked car in a hotel carpark while she gambled on pokies (January, 2006)

- Whangarei mother left two babies in a car for more than two hours while she gambled on pokies (May, 2005)

- Two young children started a fire when left in a car while their mother gambled on pokies in a Gisborne bar (March, 2005)

- 18-month-old child left in a hot car while 18-year-old mother gambled on pokies in tavern (March, 2005)

- Mother and grandmother left 6-year-old child in car in Christchurch Casino carpark while they gambled (October, 2004)

- Auckland father left three children under 6 in a van while gambling at SkyCity casino (August, 2004)

Over 90% of people presenting with gambling problems say that pokies are the root of their problem.

“Stringent safety features need to be implemented on pokie machines to eliminate the harm caused by gambling in our society.”


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