Last Thursday I went to a pub in Manukau to celebrate the launch of a campaign called Our Place is Proudly Pokie-Free and heard from the proprietor how after a career in the hospitality industry, top of his list of criteria for the business he wanted to run was a family-friendly venue that didn’t have pokies in it.
South Auckland has far too many of the 4059 pokie machines that are clustered in pubs and clubs in the Auckland region. According to the Auckland Council maps they have a higher density in lower income areas.
The council has responded to community pressure to reduce the numbers of pokies through a sinking lid policy in bars. Despite this South Auckland still has disproportionately far more pokies than Remuera.
The community pressure behind the sinking lid policy comes from organisations like the spirited Otara Gambling and Alcohol Action Group who have campaigned tirelessly for reductions in alcohol outlets and pokie bars in their neighbourhoods. These groups were also supporting the event on Thursday night. They welcomed the stance taken by the Manukau bar as a ‘safe’ entertainment environment.
Taking a stand against pokies is not just good for the community it is also good for the hospitality sector as a whole.
The Australian Productivity Commission reported that pokies suck money away from other entertainments. It’s not spent on restaurants, music, and for hundreds of problem gamblers it’s also money not spent on the necessities of life.
But, as the Waste spokesperson for the Greens and a keen supporter or re-use initiatives I was delighted to be served my beer in a glass pint milk bottle.