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Falling pokie spend could strengthen communities

May 1, 2008
Falling pokie spending could strengthen communities

The Problem Gambling Foundation welcomes an 11% drop in pokie spending in the three months to March 31.

CEO John Stansfield says it is likely to be partly due to a long hot summer keeping people out of dark and sleazy pokie bars.

Mr Stansfield says that rising public awareness about the dangers of gambling on pokies, and tighter local government controls, could also be contributing to the downfall.

"Whatever the reason it is great news," he says.

"If this becomes a trend we will soon see the pokie trusts packing their bags and slinking out of town.

"This would leave poorer communities with much greater resilience to deal with problems like the rapidly increasing price of food and fuel"

Mr Stansfield says that beneficiaries and Maori are the biggest spenders on the pokies and the pokie trusts continued to target them by placing their machines in low decile areas.

"We can't afford to let this continue," he says.

"We know the poverty, family breakdowns and crime this is resulting in. It is immoral and economically unsustainable to let the trusts continue to prey on the vulnerable in this way.

"Life is difficult enough already for low income people. Gambling reform could be an important part of building the capacity of low income communities to see them through hard times.

"Generating funding off peoples gambling problems to fund social services makes about as much sense as encouraging people to buy bigger cars to deal with petrol price rises.

"There is an opportunity for government to provide some positive leadership at the moment by making real changes in their review of the Gambling Act, rather than tinkering around the edges"


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