by Denise Roche
This week we physically demonstrated just how big the pokies-for-convention-centre will be by installing hundreds of cardboard replicas in Aotea Square. Over the day Aucklanders interacted with the pokies and wrote their messages about their opposition to the deal.
The convention centre deal essentially sells our gambling law to Sky City and enables them to have an extra 230 pokie machines as well as 12 automated machines that are in effect 20 more pokies – and extra gambling tables as well. The deal effectively creates an additional casino in Auckland and if we add up the machine numbers and gambling tables they basically equate to the third largest casino in New Zealand.
The legislation that will enable this to happen, the New Zealand International Convention Centre bill, will be reported back to parliament for its second reading in the next week or two but there is still time to stop the deal from happening because the government has only a one vote majority on this issue. All we need is one government or Act or United Future MP to go with their conscience and cross the floor.
It’s estimated that about 40% of the profits from pokie gambling (and for Sky City most of those profits go to their shareholders) depend on problem gambling or crime. Problem gambling creates havoc for the individuals, for their families and for our communities. The social costs of problem gambling include family violence, depression, suicide, crime to fund gambling habits and the neglect of children.
A New Zealand Health Survey last year reported that 89,000 adults had been affected by some-one else’s gambling. The survey didn’t include the impact on children but it is fair to assume that they are affected disproportionately when adults that they depend on have gambling problems.
The cost of this has not been factored into the convention centre deal although the Department of Internal affairs has calculated that around 6500 children will be affected by problem gambling resulting from the deal.
The cost of that harm hasn’t been factored into the economic analysis of the convention centre deal either.
The Greens are continuing with our campaign to stop this deal. We’d appreciate your help to to do that.