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Don't gamble on a happy Christmas

Don't gamble on a happy Christmas

Green MP Sue Bradford is warning New Zealanders not to gamble on a happy Christmas.

"Despite the increased financial pressures of the season, gambling does not offer an easy way out. In fact, gambling to improve Christmas for your family will only make this a season of ill-will," said Ms Bradford, Green Party Gambling Spokesperson.

"The lure of a 'big win' to have the 'best Christmas ever' is a cruel temptation, and initial losses end up being chased, leaving the gambler with little or nothing to put bread on the table - let alone presents under the tree."

The Problem Gambling Helpline has indicated there is a spike in calls from those in difficulty because of gambling during the festive season. The 0800 number has been staffed on Christmas day for the past few years, and had a record number of call last year - 24 in 2002, up from 10 in 2001.

This year, Ms Bradford fears New Zealand will break this shameful record. "The recently passed gambling laws designed to put the community in control of pokie machine growth have failed to address their vampiric influence."

Many communities have seen an explosion of pokie machines in the last year. Figures provided by GamblingWatch indicate that the Districts of Carterton, Wairoa and Manuwatu have seen an increase of over 40 percent in pokie machine numbers in the past 12 months.

"These communities are hardly affluent and are more at risk of developing serious social problems, compared to say, Queenstown."

Ms Bradford concluded by calling for a repeal of the 'grandfather' clause in the Gambling Act that sees new pokie outlets limited to nine machines, while those licensed before October 2001 have no such limits. This would remove 7,317 pokie machines from the community, from a present total of 22,971.

The clause, according to Ms Bradford, "was a silver-plated opportunity for established gambling operators to profit from, and prey on, the community."

ENDS

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