Problem Pokies? Industry would say otherwise
Problem Pokies? Industry would have us believe otherwise
In the NZ Herald's opinion piece on Wednesday 29th Oct, Ross Ferrar CEO of Gaming Technologies Association would have us believe that pokies are harmless entertainment and "approved and controlled like no other hospitality equipment".
Pokie Machine Gambling is controlled by the Gambling Act, 2003. This Act still enables just under 20,000 pokie machines to be distributed in our communities with a hugely disproportionate number being placed in our poorest communities.
This is not by accident as the Industry have long identified that people on low wages are more apt to gamble to escape drudgery and to potentially elevate one's living standards. 1
The industry also are clear that there is "a positive relationship between the availability of gambling resources and both regular and significant gambling behaviour". 2
This then helps explain why New Zealand has had an explosion of pokie venues out in our communities and as the Ministry of Health have stated there is a direct correlation between rising machine numbers and rising numbers of problem gamblers. In Australia both the Productivity Commission and the Victorian Government have both supported caps on machine numbers as they see a direct correlation between access and problem gambling.
It is also known that the industry invest heavily in research by psychologists to maximize gambling behaviour using pokie machines. And why wouldn't the industry do this? They are in the business of making money
The opinion piece states that the pokie industry contributes to worthy community purposes.
The reality is that for every dollar lost, less than 40 cents is returned to the community at large, and that 40 cents invariably does not get returned to the community from which it was lost in the first place.
For example, the largest benefactors are sports organizations including horse racing where $22 million was spent, principally funding horse racing prize money.
Public opinion against pokies has not been driven by "zealots", as Ross Ferrar would have us believe. Research by the Department of Internal Affairs clearly shows that the majority of New Zealanders do not support pokie gambling. This has been a constant theme in the DIA's Peoples Participation in Gambling Attitudinal Research which is carried out annually. Added to this only 1% thought there should be more machines.
Furthermore, a significant number of Territorial Authorities in New Zealand have voted, due to public pressure to adopt policies which stop the growth of pokies and over time reduce the numbers of machines. In Christchurch and Manukau combined there were over 9000 submissions from the public wanting reduced pokies.
Problem Gambling Foundation, as do other providers and the community, have to deal with the day to day misery that these machines cause. To work with families that have been inflicted with problem gambling and have lost their house, their business, and dealing with broken relationships brought on by the stress of dealing with this problem, ensures that PGF will continue to work to eliminate the harm from problem gambling.