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Pokie losses coming from a minority


...Press Release...
February 29, 2008

Pokie losses coming from a minority


A minority of people are losing most of the $1billion a year pokie machine profits according to a new survey.

Problem Gambling Foundation CEO John Stansfield says that the 2005 Department of Internal Affairs Peoples Participation in, and Attitudes to Gambling survey shows that only 19% of people played the pokies even once a year.

Mr Stansfield says that this was less than a third of the number of people who played Lotto but the amount of money lost on pokies was two thirds the amount lost on Lotto.

"Given that 55% of pokie sessions are for less than half an hour, and only 8% of people said they played once a month or more,  a relatively small number of people must be spending a lot of money to make up the average," he says.

"This survey proves what we have been saying for a long time. Community funding from pokie machines is really the exploitation of  people with gambling problems to pay for sporting, recreational and social services we all benefit from.

"This is not an ethical or healthy way to raise funds."

The survey also showed that only 13% of people thought the people who operate pokie machines should distribute funds.

"People are telling us they don't see the operators as accountable and want them to remove their machines from their communities."

Mr Stansfield says the survey confirmed that some groups were particularly vulnerable to gambling harm.

"For example Maori gamble on the pokies more than other ethnic groups. They also had longer sessions, spent more and were more likely to hold the mistaken belief they had broken even.

"The pokie owners know this and target the areas they and other vulnerable people live. They know the damage that is being done to these communities but they don't seem to care.

"We all become victims of the damage pokies are doing to some extent. We may never go near the machines ourselves but we end up paying when our homes are burgled or our business robbed to fund somebody else's gambling habit

"We also pick up the cost of family breakdowns, court cases, imprisonment costs, suicides and a decrease in social cohesion. Pokie machines are placing an enormous burden on our communities."

Mr Stansfield says that the information available about the effects pokie machines have on the community, and the potential solutions to the problem, is now far greater than in 2001 when politicians started working on the Gambling Act.

"The good news in this survey is that generally people are much better informed on harmful forms of gambling and are rejecting them," he says.

"It is time for our politicians to start showing the same good sense and act to protect us all from further harm."


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