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Suffer the Little Children

April 29, 2008
Suffer the Little Children

"Its time to stop bludging off the children of the poor," says the Problem Gambling Foundation.

CEO John Stansfield says the Child Poverty Action Group has got it right when it points to the pokies as a major social hazard which has a devastating effect on low-income neighbourhoods he says.

In a report released yesterday CPAG identifies the concentration of pokies in low decile areas as being responsible for job loss, ill health and financial difficulties.

The report also points out the pokies are being used to transfer money from poor areas to wealthy ones.

"We all need to be aware that when we go to the races, the theatre, an arts festival, the Sunday church service or even a game of rugby, we are likely to be doing so at the expense of a hungry child in South Auckland," he says.

'We support the CPAG call for the establishment of an alternative community funding model."

Mr Stansfield says that although the connection between gambling harm and pokie funding has taken a while to penetrate public consciousness, more than half the population now believes gambling funding does more harm than good.

"Ordinary Kiwis are becoming increasingly annoyed with having to depend on harming the vulnerable every time they participate in a recreational or community event," he says.

"The list of community organisations that refuse to accept poke funding is growing steadily and now includes major social service providers like the Salvation Army.

"We are in regular contact with other groups who feel debased by accepting this filthy money but have nowhere else to go.

"The pokies are clearly a failed experiment in community funding and an alternative has to be found urgently."

Mr Stansfield says his organisation also supports the CPAG call to give communities the power to remove machines licensed prior to 2001.

"The Gambling Act promises communities a say in decisions about the provision of gambling but it also gives absolute protection to machines licensed before 2001, so it is a meaningless promise," he says.


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