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Pokies and the 2010 local body elections

Pokies and the 2010 local body elections

GPJA has written to the Prime Minister John Key to ask for the government to approve binding local referenda at the time of the 2010 local body elections to give voters the chance to oust pokie machines from local communities.

Pokie machines situated in shops and pubs are having a devastating effect throughout New Zealand – particularly in low-income areas where these machines are disproportionately situated. Half the machines are in the poorest third of the country and no less than 80% of referrals to problem gambling services are from people with addictions to locally-situated pokies (as opposed to casino-based pokies)

New Zealanders have never had the option of deciding whether they want these machines or not. They have simply been foisted on unsuspecting communities. The only exceptions have been where locals have successfully campaigned to prevent pokie parlours becoming established. (Eg Sandringham, Auckland)

We reject the argument pokies can be justified because the proceeds help fund positive community activities. Only one dollar is put back into the community for every three dollars taken out. In any case it is incongruous that community-building activities should require funding from a community-destroying activity.

Communities are being forced to cannibalise themselves to get funding for local initiatives.

We have lost count of the millions given to the racing industry and the multiple fraud cases involving scams of all kinds which have proliferated from the pokies. They are a malign influence from all perspectives.

We wrote to the previous government and last year also wrote to Richard Worth (who was Minister of Internal Affairs at the time) to request the issue be considered via local referenda during local body elections. The request was declined but we are asking John Key to reconsider the issue urgently.

A vote at the 2010 local body elections would give communities the chance to rid themselves of these parasitic machines.

ENDS

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