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Nats gambling policy will harm society

15 September 2005

Nats' gambling policy would have the pokie business ringing

National's newly revealed Gaming Policy may as well have been written by the pokie industry, Green Gambling Spokesperson Sue Bradford says.

The policy, extracted from spokesperson Lindsay Tisch by problem gambling consultant Sue Torkington, says "National is committed to a robust, transparent industry where everyone can enjoy a 'game of chance' and New Zealand as a whole benefits".

"It is outrageous that National should say that because the number of lotto outlets has increased, pokie operators should be allowed to do so as well," Ms Bradford says.

"Ninety percent of problem gambling in this country is caused by pokie machines, so it is plainly disingenuous to imply that because 'between 85 and 90 percent of the adult population participate at least once a year in one or more forms of gaming' then the number of pokie machines should be allowed to increase. When it comes to harm, you simply cannot compare a pokie parlour to a lotto outlet.

"We have a serious gambling addiction problem in this country. National's 'legitimate right of an individual to gamble for entertainment' is more than catered for by the gambling options all ready out there. People who are desperate or suffering from a gambling addiction don't need even more opportunities to use pokies.

"The Greens strongly support the right of local bodies, in consultation with all their community stakeholders, to have total control over how many machines are installed in their areas. We don't want to see a return to the unregulated expansion of pokie parlours.

"It is also deeply worrying that the Nats want to remove the legal limit on how much venues can charge to host these machines, because that will mean that publicans have a direct financial interests in the machine's turn over and therefore will have a reason to encourage people to keep gambling at any cost.

"In 2002, the National Party received a $50,000 donation from the Sky City Casino. I will be very interested to see their 2005 'Return of Party Donations'.

"The Nats' potential coalition partner NZ First also has links to the pokie industry. In 2002 Winston's party received $16,000 from the Gold Times Trust, the same Trust that is embroiled in a case of alleged fraud conspiracy currently before the High Court at Auckland.

"The fact that National's gambling policy isn't on their website and that a researcher had to pull it out of them continues the pattern of the Nats using covert methods to keep their unpopular hard-right policies out of the public eye.

Last week it quietly buried their housing policy on their website, probably because it includes ending income-based rent for state housing tenants.

Earlier this week it slipped a work-for-the-dole plan into their environment policy, and then only revealed under media questioning that it also wants to reduce the Environment Ministry to a policy unit. What other National Party policies other than gambling are written but not released?"


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