Gambling bill disappoints as SkyCity deal’s flaws scrutinised

Maybe it was a coincidence that saw the NZ Herald’s two opinion pieces on the SkyCity convention centre deal yesterday appear the same day that the commerce select committee report back to the house a drastically watered down Gambling (Gambling Harm Reduction) Amendment bill that deals with pokie machines in pubs and clubs.

Or maybe it’s a sign of the times and gambling is becoming less and less attractive as people wake up to the fact that the gambling industry trades in misery and harm to make money.

Personally I’m deeply disappointed that the gambling bill has taken the form it has. Originally in the name of Te Ururoa Flavell it was well intentioned and promised to give councils and communities more say over pokies in their communities and where the money would be distributed. It was also meant to clean up the industry and include in legislation measures to reduce harm to gamblers through player tracking and per-commit cards. What is being reported back though cuts across council’s ability to use their gambling policies to reduce the number of pokies in venues if they chose to allow them to relocate.

It’s this cutting across what councils can do with their gambling policies that irks many local government politicians.  Julie Fairey’s blog makes the point that the Sky City deal undoes the good work the council has been doing on reviewing their pubs and clubs gambling policies and the feedback from the communities that they want to reduce the number of pokies across the Auckland region.  She makes the point that the government has repeatedly said that overall pokie numbers are dropping in NZ – but that’s because the gambling law says no new casinos will be opened and is largely due to councils introducing sinking lid policies for pokies in pubs and clubs. Adding another 230 to the mix in Auckland is like opening another casino.

The other opinion piece yesterday referred to the cronyism inherent in making a special set of laws to support the Sky City deal. We’ve been banging on for ages that changing the legislation for your mates is unconstitutional and dangerous for democracy. It’s good to see the legal fraternity endorsing that view.

About Denise Roche 161 Articles

Green Party MP

8 Comments Posted

  1. Gambling, especially poky machines in poor areas, preys on the need for hope, of those with little chance of changes for the better in their lives.

    Which makes it as evil as drug pushing.

    Drugs being another way of making a life without hope, a bit more bearable.

  2. Will someone answer a question, do casinos and these small gambling dens pay tax?

    Specific to pokies, there is a Gaming machine duty of 20% on the profits an organisation makes from its gaming machines.

    The overall share of the revenue of pokies going to the government coffers is a bit over 30%.

    It would have been kinder if the previous ‘poster’ had attacked the message and left the messanger alone.

    It would, wouldn’t it. But Denise isn’t a messenger in this regard, she is an agent for change, and one that want to damage communities.

    For example…

    When the Flavell bill first came out, there was a lot of statements all over the media like “80% of the money from gamblers should go directly to good causes, rather than just 37%”. This is simply not possible, as the government would need to give up their cut, and that wont happen.

    Here is Denise telling the world that the Flavell bill will “raise the amount distributed from machines to the community from 37% to at least 80%”. Ok, it is corrected in later statements, but by then the message is old news and no-one is interested any more. The impression has been left.

    Pokie machine gambling is important in New Zealand society as it is an significant way that money is allocated to good causes; gambling proceeds do good things in communities. Some people just want them gone. I understand that perspective. But these people need to accept responsibility for the enormous harm to communities that dumping pokies is having.

  3. dbuckley, problem gambling is an addiction

    Absolutely, Viv K. We agree.

    Where we differ is I want to treat the addicted, as that is where the problem is. Your approach is to limit the supply of the addicted substance, and we know how well that works, just look at any other addiction.

    Heres the real issue: if a magic wand could be waved and every pokie in the land dissapeared right now, you would still be left with the problem of the addicts, who somehow would continue to disappoint their partners, family, friends and community. We need a better answer, and that answer is to address the addiction.

  4. dbuckley, problem gambling is an addiction and companies like Sky city profit from that addiction, as tobacco companies do with smokers. To help people overcome their harmful addictions we have regulations to restrict the activities of the companies who are making huge profits feeding those same addictions. Your ‘man up’ comment ignores the fact that individuals with susceptibility to problem gambling are being preyed upon by those whose only interest is profit. Time to load the dice against the casinos and pokie machines.

  5. Will someone answer a question, do casinos and these small gambling dens pay tax? It would have been kinder if the previous ‘poster’ had attacked the message and left the messanger alone. Cigarettes are said to be dangerous, the government is hell bent on getting rid of opportunities for people to indulge in this habit. Why not help those who are addicted to gambling which brings much misery to society too.

  6. The real problem I have with Denise (and those like her) is that they blame the ills of problem gamblers on everything but the problem gamblers themselves. Until these people man up and start addressing the issue of problem people (for that is what problem gamblers are) then there will be little progress addressing this blight on society.

    Not to mention that the funds available for good causes will continue to diminish. And its beginning to actually make a difference. Discovery Foundation is on its way out, due to lack of charitable money.

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