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Nat gambling policy: Communities lose to publicans

Press Release

Communities lose to publicans under National’s gambling policy

Media Release: Thursday 15th September 2005

“Local communities will lose power to determine how many pokies in their area under National’s proposed gambling policy,” says John Stansfield, CEO of the Problem Gambling Foundation of New Zealand (PGF).

“Local communities and local council authorities have a greater understanding of their community needs than Wellington-based politicians. It is of paramount importance that those with the most knowledge have greater control in keeping their community safe from gambling harm,” says Mr Stansfield.

The National Party correctly identifies that gambling has increased significantly over the last decade, but has conveniently forgotten that an increase in gambling is accompanied by an increase in gambling problems.

“National’s proposal that venues receive a commission on community benefit is of grave concern. It appears to encourage maximising punters’ losses in favour of lining the pockets of publicans,” he says.

This could potentially increase problem gambling, and with it all the associated costs to society. The Problem Gambling Foundation has noticed a dramatic increase in the number of high-profile gambling-related crimes.

Individuals are committing acts of kidnapping and extortion, theft, fraud, neglect and a variety of other crimes in order to feed their gambling problems.

Each year 5000 New Zealanders are convicted of gambling-related crimes.

Problem gambling affects more than the individual. For every problem gambler seven others are affected. This includes whanau, children, friends, employers and employees and the wider community.

“The economic, social and cultural costs are huge,” he says.

“If that were not bad enough, problem gambling services – the very ones that help problem gamblers regain control of their lives and their gambling – are being punished for their good work.” The final point of National’s policy is the governance of the gambling industry.

Currently, the Department of Internal Affairs has control of regulating gambling in accordance with the Gambling Act, and the independent Gambling Commission acts as an appeal body for pokie operators and casino operators.

“This all adds up to a very expensive appeal system through the High Courts with less money going to community organisations.”

“This is not a policy to achieve a balance between rights to gamble and gambling harm, but proof that the National Party is more interested in greedy publicans than the communities they are supposed to be helping.”

Eliminating harm caused by gambling

0800 664 262

© 2005 Problem Gambling Foundation of New Zealand

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