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Casinos Losing Sleaze Competition

Casinos Losing Sleaze Competition

New Zealand's casinos are losing a battle for the bottom end of the gambling market says the Problem Gambling Foundation.

CEO John Stansfield says that figures released by the Department of Internal Affairs today showed a 5% increase in spending in pokie bars but a drop of 4.7% at casinos for the 2006/2007 year.

Overall spending on gambling increased 2.2% to $2.020 million during the same period.

Mr Stansfield says the casinos are following an international trend in moving away from sophisticated table games to the highly addictive and profitable pokie machines.

"The casinos are in a competition with the pokie trusts for a growing group of gamblers with out of control pokie habits but the trusts have the advantage of venues on every street corner in poor areas where the customers live," he says.

Mr Stansfield says that pokies are very profitable because they give a guaranteed return and are cheap to run. They use few staff and contribute little to the economy.

He says the machines are very successful at getting people to gamble more often and for longer periods, often with tragic or criminal consequences.

"They are a license to print money if you don't care about your customers," he says.

"Casinos around the world have recognised this and are redesigning their premises to lead people to the machines.

"Casinos are becoming more tightly regulated and will soon have to introduce real and effective host responsibility programmes. While this is great for gamblers and the community, it will force casinos to face up to the harm they do.

"Reducing gambling harm will inevitably reduce casino profits which have been far too reliant on problem gambling.

"Casinos are very dependant on problem gamblers for their profits and if enforceable and measurable host responsibility programmes are introduced they could lose many of these customers."

Mr Stansfield says that the increased gambling spend was largely the result of the initial effects of the smoke free legislation wearing off and that unless there was major reform to the Gambling Act the upward trend would continue.

ENDS

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