Denise Roche
Submit to sink the lid on Auckland pokies

Auckland Council is currently reviewing its Class 4 (pub and club pokies) gambling policy, and I’m encouraging people to have their say on this important issue.

Councils across New Zealand have some control over the number of pubs and clubs with pokie machines. The policy review will be the first time Auckland Council has brought together all the different gambling policies from the seven legacy councils that were in existence before the Super City merger. The Council does not have any control over gambling at the Sky City casino as this is regulated by government legislation.

Across the Auckland region there are 4,183 pokie machines at 305 different venues. In 2011, $245 million dollars was lost on them. Problem gambling figures suggest that around 40% of that money came from problem gamblers who are usually those who can least afford it.

Pokie machines are the most harmful mode of gambling in New Zealand. They are designed to be both costly and addictive, and are often targeted to areas where there is low household income and high deprivation. For example, the Orakei Local Board area – which covers Remuera and Epsom – has the lowest number of pokie venues and pokie machines in Auckland. By comparison, they are far more prevalent in the Papakura and Otara-Papatoetoe Local Board areas. The social harm from problem gambling is enormous – for every problem gambler there are an estimated 9 – 12 people, mainly children, adversely affected by it.

Auckland Council is considering having a ‘sinking lid’ policy for pokie machines that will cover the entire region and the Greens are supporting this. A sinking lid policy means that the Council will act on their responsibility to reduce harm from gambling by not allowing any new pokie venues to be opened – and where pokie venues close, they will not allow them to be replaced. This means that over time the number of pokies in Auckland will reduce.

I am trying to maximise the number of submission in support of a responsible policy that minimises gambling harm, so I’m hoping Frogblog readers can find the time to submit. To help you write your submission I have prepared a submission guide and mail form. I am also organising four submission-writing workshops to be held in Central, South, West and North Auckland. The dates and venues for the workshops are:

  • Thurs 14 Feb, 5:30pm-7.00pm, Auckland Green Party Office, 17 Mercury Lane, Newton
  • Thurs 21 Feb, 5:30pm-7:00pm, Mangere Community Centre, 141 Robertson Road, Mangere
  • Mon 25 Feb, 5:30pm-7:00pm, Ranui Community House, 474 Swanson Road, Ranui
  • Mon 25 Feb, 7:30pm-9:00pm, Glenfield Community Centre, Cnr Glenfield Rd & Bentley Ave

49 thoughts on “Submit to sink the lid on Auckland pokies

  1. Open a pokkie shop backing onto the local social welfare branch. Then we’ll have a money go-round that cuts out the unnecessary middle man.

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  2. There is much truth in jest.

    I think what you’re missing here is that people do derive *some benefit* from playing pokies i.e. it has an entertainment value, else they wouldn’t do it. Okay, it isn’t for you and me, but some people like it.

    So why doesn’t the government run pokies like they run Lotto? Have the proceeds go straight back into the community.

    The danger is that if you take away pokies, then they’ll just find something else to gamble on – perhaps something which you can’t control.

    There are plenty of home garage-based gambling shops in our poorer areas….

    The danger is you’ll give them more business….

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  3. @Arana 2:36 PM

    I guess you just couldn’t resist the opportunity for a spot of beneficiary bashing.

    How about this example: A few years ago Sue Bradford discovered that a pokie bar in South Auckland and a loan sharking business next door were both owned by the same guy. Turned out he also was a partner in an addiction counselling business that treated, among others, problem gamblers.

    Talk about perfection in vertical integration of his business enterprises.

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  4. It stings because you know its true.

    Talk about perfection in vertical integration of his business enterprises.

    One has to admire the ingenuity :) Not unlike politicians creating the very social problems they then ride in to “solve”, huh.

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  5. For example, the Orakei Local Board area – which covers Remuera and Epsom – has the lowest number of pokie venues and pokie machines in Auckland.

    Erm…yes, because wealthy people don’t play coin-operated pokies. :-|

    They play the share market.

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  6. Quotes from my submission on the Gambling (Gambling Harm Reduction) Amendment Bill:

    …funds available to community groups from proceeds of Class IV gambling have dropped by about a third in real terms in less than five years

    And it seems like there is now a drive to target Auckland’s community groups…

    Given that the numbers of pokie machines have been declining year on year for almost a decade, it would be expected that the numbers of problem gamblers would also be in decline. Although there appears to be no evidence whatsoever of the numbers of problem gamblers, the rhetoric does not suggest that the numbers are reducing, more so the opposite.

    This lack of reduction (assuming that is indeed the case) would make it reasonable to assume that the sinking lid policies are not causing a reduction in problem gambling.

    It would even be reasonable to suggest that the reduction in pokie machine numbers is causing a concentration of problem gambling, ie the [sinking lid] policy is exacerbating the problem rather than addressing it.

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  7. Erm…yes, because wealthy people don’t play coin-operated pokies. :-|
    They play the share market.

    Very true Arana!

    A shame pokie addicts can’t deduct their losses against income taxes unlike portfolio holders eh?

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  8. @Arana: “I think what you’re missing here is that people do derive *some benefit* from playing pokies i.e. it has an entertainment value, else they wouldn’t do it.”

    I’m not convinced that saying everyone derives entertainment from pokies makes it true. My own impression is that many people play them do so because they’re either addicted, bad at maths, or both.

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  9. A shame pokie addicts can’t deduct their losses against income taxes unlike portfolio holders eh

    Since when? Virtually impossible to get that sort of thing through the IRD.

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  10. I’m not convinced that saying everyone derives entertainment from pokies makes it true

    They have many gambling choices. There is a reason they choose pokies over others. My guess is they see it as being more social than, say, phoning the TAB.

    The fact they are lousy at maths and are addictive personalities is a given. But those personal qualities aren’t going to go away just because we remove the machines. They’ll substitute their gambling venue.

    The problem lies much deeper. Some people may not like facing it, but a lot of the problem could be solved if the welfare system was restructured i.e. don’t give these people cash.

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  11. @Arana 4:15 PM

    They have many gambling choices. There is a reason they choose pokies over others.

    The reason is that pokies are deliberately designed to create addicts. The flashing lights, the seductive sounds and music, and the programming of the machines to usually give punters enough wins to keep them in the game, even though the odds mean they can never win long term.s
    This is not horse racing or blackjack, where with a little bit of study and skill you might at least break even. The pokie industry is designed to create addicts, who inevitably lose bigtime.

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  12. Arana – under special provisions within the Income Tax Act 1994 and established under case law CIR vs Inglis (1993) and CIR vs Stockwell (1993).

    Simply, if shares are purchased for the intention of making a profit (i.e. as a trader), any losses associated with trading are deductible.

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  13. Quite correct, Toad.

    There is a ton of research on the addictive qualities of pokies and their attraction vis-a-vis other types of gambling.
    They are specifically engineered into the experience to take advantage of evolutionary foibles in the human brain – the gamblers equivalent of crack cocaine. Reason in fact, goes out the window.

    I would suggest you take a look at some of the research Arana – particularly that done since the advent of fMRI scanning – to get an accurate picture of how toxic pokies are.

    If you can’t be bothered dredging through academic papers but want to hold an informed opinion on the subject, I can highly recommend Jonah Lehrer’s book ‘How we Decide’ for a crash course in laymans neuroscience and an explanation into the mechanics of gambling.

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  14. The variable ratio reinforcement of the pokies is the hardest habit to break in human behaviour. If you reward someone every time they do something, and then stop they’ll try a couple more times and then quit. If you reward them once every 4-7 times they’ll go on, and on, and on, sure that they’ll hit the big one. If you stop they’l keep trying MUCH longer, because they can’t believe that there isn’t any more. There’s a rush associated with the win… it is absolutely DEADLY as a habit.

    There is, without a doubt, a crime being committed right now related to a gambling addiction. Leaving the pokies so accessible is a lot worse than most of the drugs that we so oppressively prohibit.

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  15. I know the pokies are addictive, but that isn’t really my point.

    I’m guessing no-one on this thread plays pokies, even though pokies are cleverly designed to lure us.

    Take away the pokies, and the type of people who play pokies are highly likely to substitute. They have addictive personalities and they dream of getting something for nothing.

    The question becomes: if you took away all pokies, how much of the gambling problem would disappear? I’m not sure we know the answer to that question.

    Let’s say some of the people don’t substitute, but many do. The next question is: how do they substitute? If they substitute in an area where we have less control, then we make the problem worse. Do any of you visit poor areas? You’d know about the garage gambling dens, then.

    So, what if pokies represent an opportunity to monitor people, provide them with the thrill they seek, yet the proceeds go straight back to the community, or, more directly, the welfare state?

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  16. “yet the proceeds go straight back to the community”

    What proportion of the proceeds, and whose community?

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  17. Details. For arguments sake, let’s say 100% of the proceeds, less operating costs. Let’s say the state runs them. Let’s say the money goes straight back to social welfare and education.

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  18. Arana, it does not matter where the “proceeds” go. The nature of the extraction is that it appeals most to the people who can afford it least, and the nature of the addiction is that it is almost impossible to break. Like alcoholics it is a PERMANENT disability induced by the damned things. Nor does the market do ANYTHING “for free”. We may not see the costs but anyone with a lick of sense knows they are there. There is not a good thing in this at all. The only place pokies might have a place is inside a formally licensed casino where people who CAN afford to play can have a tiddle. A limited venue or set of venues, and even there they can convert vulnerable members of the upper class (some people are more susceptible than others) to poverty. The machines are NEVER good for the community they are in.

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  19. BJ, my point is that the machines are a symptom of an underlying disease. They don’t cause the disease.

    Do you understand the meaning of the term “substitution”?

    In the end, it’s not something politicians are capable of solving. They’ll get their ban, they’ll stand for their smiling photo, the community will throw a few more votes their way, then they’ll swan off back to Wellington, self-satisfied in the knowledge “they have made a difference”.

    Meanwhile, the festering cancer grows beneath the surface, fueled by easy money and no responsibility. It’s just more difficult to spot and treat now.

    PS: How about replacing pokies with Pachinko?

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  20. Like marijuana, treat it as a health issue. Prohibition of gambling is not going to work – for the same reason. The desire is still there.

    It’s better the desire is out there in the open where we can see it, derive revenue from it, and control it.

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  21. @Arana 12:38 PM

    Like marijuana, treat it as a health issue. Prohibition of gambling is not going to work – for the same reason. The desire is still there.

    Straw man, Arana. We’re not talking about prohibition. We are talking about a local authority developing its pokie machine gambling policy, as it is required to do under the law. Councils don’t have the power to impose a blanket prohibition of pokies – that would require a change in the legislation.

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  22. I know, but reducing them has the same effect. It concentrates gambling in certain areas, and the substitution appears in areas where the sinking lid policy closes outlets down.

    Perhaps I’m not making my point clearly. The machines are a symptom of a much deeper problem. I can understand why politicians focus on the machines themselves as it gives the desired impression to voters, which suits political purposes, but risks making the actual problem a lot worse.

    The way to stop stupid and addicted people – who can least afford it – torching their money is to stop handing them cash in the first place. More direct intervention is required when it comes to their weekly spend, and should be directed at the needs of kids by way of debit card systems (welfare).

    The gambler will gamble regardless, it’s just the venue that changes.

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  23. Arana – again, if you look at the research you’ll see that the qualities associated with pokie addiction are different form other forms of gambling.

    So while a gambler is a gambler, pokies are the equivalent of having crack cocaine, cheaply and freely available at the corner store. The dopamine hit is instant and persistent. It’s in fact pre-triggered by the noise and lights as an expectation/reward response. This is something peculiar to pokies and plenty of research has shown that it is this passive and instant reward response that makes pokies so dangerous. No other form of gambling has the same effect.

    So in a nutshell, you quite incorrect when you posit a zero-sum substitution theory for gambling. In a large percentage of problem gamblers, if you remove the instant expectation/reward cycle – particularly given that pokies require almost no mental or physical effort – gamblers tend to think about what they are doing and begin to weigh the odds of success in a different fashion. This delay mechanism reduces the compulsive nature of the act. They might still gamble but the impacts are markedly reduced.

    As I said previously, it would pay you to look at some of the academic research as opposed to holding forth in an uniformed manner.

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  24. @Arana 3:22 PM

    … reducing them has the same effect. It concentrates gambling in certain areas…

    Pokie bar gambling is already concentrated in certain areas – they happen to be the areas where people who can least afford to gamble live.

    More direct intervention is required when it comes to their weekly spend, and should be directed at the needs of kids by way of debit card systems (welfare).

    Most problem gamblers I know are in paid employment. A welfare debit card scheme would do nothing to assist them overcome their gambling problem as they earn their own money.

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  25. Arana – The pokie machines are VASTLY more damaging and addictive than the marijuana. It is a community health issue which the community has a right to say NO to. The right to put more pokies into a community conflicts with the right of the community to protect itself from the effects of them. Which are ENTIRELY bad. This goes directly to the limitations on the “free market” we discuss elsewhere.

    “if you took away all pokies, how much of the gambling problem would disappear? I’m not sure we know the answer to that question.”

    Substitution? The things that they COULD substitute with are NZ Lottery scratchies, illegal numbers rackets, various forms of betting etc. Not one of them can match the one-armed-bandit’s ability to blank out the reasoning faculty of the mind. One can get into trouble with many things but none of them are such addictive and impersonal thieves, and by their placement, targeting the least able to afford and resist.

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  26. So in a nutshell, you quite incorrect when you posit a zero-sum substitution theory for gambling. In a large percentage of problem gamblers, if you remove the instant expectation/reward cycle – particularly given that pokies require almost no mental or physical effort – gamblers tend to think about what they are doing and begin to weigh the odds of success in a different fashion.

    Got some numbers? If we take away the machines, how many substitute vs those who give up?

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  27. Most problem gamblers I know are in paid employment. A welfare debit card scheme would do nothing to assist them overcome their gambling problem as they earn their own money.

    I don’t see what business that is of the governments, unless the person seeks help to combat addiction.

    It’s their money, they can spend it on machines or wargaming or rugby tickets or rental DVDs.

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  28. The pokie machines are VASTLY more damaging and addictive than the marijuana.

    Many health professionals would disagree with you.

    http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/marijuana

    It’s curious you have one position for marijuana and another for pokie machines. Both have risks. The difference is that not all pokie players are damaged by pokie machines.

    Personally, I don’t mind either, so long as they are taxed sufficiently to offset the cost to the taxpayer for social and health costs.

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  29. Arana- I didn’t say they give up. They just tend to gamble differently, often with not such pathological frequency.

    If you can get access to it, there a study by Hansen & Rossow (2012) performed in Norway post pokie regulation which suggested that as well as the expected reduction in gambling expected post regulation, the overall incidence of gambling reduced across the control population, including pathological problem gamblers.

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  30. Here’s my real problem.

    Denise is quite clear in what she is hoping this measure will achieve:

    Pokie machines are the most harmful mode of gambling in New Zealand. … Auckland Council is considering having a ‘sinking lid’ policy for pokie machines … means that the Council will act on their responsibility to reduce harm from gambling by not allowing any new pokie venues to be opened – and where pokie venues close, they will not allow them to be replaced. This means that over time the number of pokies in Auckland will reduce. … I am trying to maximise the number of submission (sic) in support of a responsible policy that minimises gambling harm…

    Obvious logic – reduce the number of pokie machines, reduce the gambling harm.

    The Ministry of Health have released a paper of which Denise, as a member of the relevant select committee will be aware, entitled Problem Gambling in New Zealand: Preliminary Results from the New Zealand Health Survey.

    The paper notes compares data from 2002 to 2012. It notes that, over this period,

    …there was no change in rates of participation by people with a moderate or high risk of gambling problems.

    Now what is interersting in this is that during the period 2004 (which is as far as the stats go back to) and 2012 there have been a 31% drop in the number of gambling venues and a 21% drop in the number of machines.

    So, sinking lid policies clearly reduce the number of venues and machines. Yay. Now the question is where is the corrosponding drop in the numbers of problem gamblers? There is definitely less gambling going on, as the amount gambled drops quarter on quarter, see the latest report here, but problem gamblers persistantly fail to go away despite the venues and machines reducing in numbers.

    Where is the success of this policy?

    Communities and their community groups are paying a high price for the sinking lid policies, but the data suggests that these policies are not actually solving the problem gambler problem at all.

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  31. Toad:

    Other research shows that each additional pokie machine results in 0.8 new problem gamblers

    It is true that the paper Access or adaptation? A meta-analysis of surveys of problem gambling prevalence in Australia and New Zealand with respect to concentration of electronic gaming machines

    From the abstract:

    This study examines both hypotheses using a combined data set of 34 problem gambling surveys conducted in Australia and New Zealand since 1991. Strong statistically meaningful relationships were found for an increase in prevalence with increasing per capita density of EGMs, consistent with the access hypothesis and supported by no evidence of plateauing of prevalence with increasing density of EGMs.

    See that? 34 studies. Of which four are from New Zealand. The rest are from Australia, which has a problem gambling rate several times that of New Zealand.

    One of the authors of that paper, Abbott, wrote an earlier paper, Do EGMs and problem gambling go together like a horse and carriage? in which he examines the sorts of issues that happen when you try to do like for like comparisons, and which it could reasonably be expected that anyone examining the meta-analysis paper would be familiar with this work, however, Voxy just quoted the attention-seeking bit.

    As Abbott notes:

    It is widely believed that increased gambling exposure, particularly to electronic gaming machines (EGMs) and other ‘continuous’ forms, leads to a rise in gambling-related harms including problem gambling. Relevant literature, including studies conducted by the author, is critically reviewed to assess the validity of this belief. While jurisdictions with high exposure often have elevated problem gambling prevalence relative to those with low exposure, in others this relationship is attenuating or reversing. In New Zealand and Australia, despite substantial increases in EGM availability and expenditure, current national prevalence estimates are between a third to a half what they were 15 years ago.

    EGM reductions and the introduction of caps generally appear to have little impact.

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  32. So I’m still looking for evidence that gaming machine reduction (which is occuring and in substantive numbers, about 20% over 5 years) is actually reducing problem ghambling.

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  33. So, OP, what is your actual problem with the machines?

    It’s not the machines themselves, right? It’s the fact some cretin (not smart enough to weigh priorities) – or helpless addict (victim) – spends all the household food money on them, yes?

    Or is it something else?

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  34. Other research shows that each additional pokie machine results in 0.8 new problem gamblers.

    Heres a different take on this.

    I’ve run some numbers, theres a lot of assumption there, but basically, using numbers from Pub Charity’s annual reports I’ve tried to calculate the impact on donations caused by the reduction of gaming machine numbers. This is looking backwards with some data I haven’t got, so I’ve assumed that Pub Charity have about 10% of the machines in the country over the longer term.

    I reckon that each machine in the country generates about 6.7 donations to community organisations per annum. Since early 2000s we have lost a bit over 11K machines, so there are about 78K less donations per annum now then there were then.

    If you assume that each community donation goes to a community group with just ten members or beneficiaries, thats 780K less people benefitting per annum.

    Put it another way: each machine removed impacts an absolute minimum of 70 people. Absolute minimum, as many donations wont benefit just 10 people but dozens or sometimes, hundreds.

    Or alternatively, removing a pokie generates impacts at least eighty times more people negatively than leaving it there does.

    Nice going, Green Party: I didn’t know you hated the community this much.

    (And if my numbers are significantly wrong I’m very willing to eat humble pie)

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  35. Dbuck – if you take a look at the study I cited above, it does draw this conclusion.

    To be fair it doesn’t suggest that problem gambling is specifically reduced, just that the incidence of pathological gambling reduces proportionally in the overall gambling population when better controls are instituted.

    Arana – one of the principal problem with pokies is the method. Again, the research suggests that gamblers introduced to the form accelerate from moderate to pathological usage far more quickly (I.e flutter player to addict) than through persistent use of non-mechanical gambling forms.

    Also, pathological acceleration appears to disproportionately affect younger people, hooking adolescents into the compulsion cycle earlier. Given that pathological gambling problems are strongly correlated with significant incidence of other pathological behaviours ( alcohol abuse, poor social impulse control) it doesn’t make for a good mix.

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  36. one of the principal problem with pokies is the method. Again, the research suggests that gamblers introduced to the form accelerate from moderate to pathological usage

    But so what if it does? I’m sure we could say the same thing about TV watching or, in many of our cases, the internet.

    What you’re really concerned about is the effects on the individual and their family from not having that money, right?

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  37. I don’t think you can say the same about tv given that not many people are impoverished by watching it. Internet gambling is an interesting one. Some research suggest it’s just as damaging yet even less regulated. Others suggest that the natural barrier to entry (i.e. paying for access) lessens the impact and penetration of the form. There doesn’t seem to be a consensus.

    While I am concerned about the effects on the individual and their families, as with drug addicts the problem is more complex. It’s not merely a financial problem, but has social dimensions. Pathological gambling addiction goes hand in hand with and exascerbates a whole lot of other problems – depression, alcoholism, violence.

    This is why gambling forms need strict controls. Gambling can’t, and I don’t believe should, be eliminated. It’s been a social norm for thousands of years.

    But as will drug taking bans, speeding bans, restrictions on the sale of alcohol and firearms control, sometimes society needs to protect its citizens from themselves.

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  38. When I say “internet” I mean being addicted to the internet, not internet gambling.

    Pathological gambling addiction goes hand in hand with and exascerbates a whole lot of other problems – depression, alcoholism, violence.

    I’d wager (heh) such people are prone to it anyway, pokies or not.

    I’m not sure a sinking lid on pokies does anything at all to protect citizen’s from themselves. I think it’s just an easy score for politicians who will make the real problem worse.

    The real problem is deep and hard to solve.

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  39. Arana – under special provisions within the Income Tax Act 1994 and established under case law CIR vs Inglis (1993) and CIR vs Stockwell (1993).Simply, if shares are purchased for the intention of making a profit (i.e. as a trader), any losses associated with trading are deductible.

    You have to be classed as a professional trader.

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  40. Dbuck – if you take a look at the study I cited above, it does draw this conclusion.

    I did read the report, which is why I was able to comment upon it, and how almost all the data the report is based on is from overseas.

    To be fair it doesn’t suggest that problem gambling is specifically reduced, just that the incidence of pathological gambling reduces proportionally in the overall gambling population when better controls are instituted.

    Even if that latter statement is indeed the case, to be fair, having policies (I assume Green Party polices to boot, based on this is an official exhortation to submit) based on zero evidence of effectiveness, yet the collatoral damage that the policy is doing to the community as a whole is obvious doesn’t seem too sage to me.

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  41. Arane – Yes you do have to classified as a professional trader. I made that distinction already I thought in my comment,
    “(i.e. as a trader)”.

    Given that many high net worth individuals have portfolios managed by professional traders, the distinction is moot as the tax benefits get returned to the trading portfolio.

    Strange that professional gamblers don’t get the same tax benefit, no? – especially as it is essentially the same activity.

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  42. Dbuck – does it matter I the data is from overseas? Human emotional responses to gambling are universal, as drug addicts are the same everywhere.

    I’m not sure the policies are based on zero evidence. That academic work cited demonstrates that reducing electronic gambling availability does reduce the overall incidence of gambling in a target population. Isn’t that the aim of he policy?

    I’m also struggling with your collateral damage logic. Ad absurdum, should the state legalise heroin and ignore the social costs that go with chronic addiction so long as community sports groups – often the same communities blighted by poverty – get funding?

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  43. Gambling on pokie machines is literally designed for losers :-(

    Any potential gambler would be wise to just buy shares in Sky City Casino – instead of feeding the machines! The returns would be healthy indeed, better than a sure bet mate ;-)

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  44. Will be glad to help Denise. So interesting the ‘connections’ between people and the companies in whose ‘interests’ it is to have more pokie machines at a time when other ‘choices’ and indeed ‘safety nets’ are being cut or covertly being eroded from those who are unaware of it.

    It pays when observing professional gamblers especially of the Political kind I find, to watch for the sleights of hand and also who changes their mind on those who run casinos and other outlets, in a complete turn-around.
    Money talks LOUDLY even from the inside of envelopes..

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  45. does it matter I the data is from overseas?

    It wouldn’t, except for the fact that the small amount of NZ data doesn’t correlate well with the majority of the Australian data. Indeed in Abbott’s earlier work he points out how the Australian data isn’t even consistant across areas of Oz.

    Thus I am… groping for word… reluctant to accept the data represents New Zealand adequately.

    If sinking lid really was the answer then givcen that we already have a really big reduction in the number of pokies there would have been at least a decent reduction in problem gambling.

    Ad absurdum, should the state legalise heroin and ignore the social costs…

    I think we both agree that example is indeed a stretch too far, but we (as in society) often accept bad things when there is a good as well.

    Problem gambling isn’t really a “blight”, it negatively affects a small numnber of people, whereas the benefits of class four gambling benefits a large number of people.

    Mitigation of harm is why we have services available to help people who can’t resist the lure of gambling.

    This is certainly a polarising issue; if one works with problem gamblers one only sees the bad. If one works with community groups one only sees the good. I remain dissapointed that the Green Party have taken a stance based on one side of the argument without significant examination of the entire picture.

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  46. Strange that professional gamblers don’t get the same tax benefit, no? – especially as it is essentially the same activity

    One is entertainment, the other is business. If you were to make all entertainment deductible, I don’t think the politicians would have much revenue to torch.

    Now there’s an idea…

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  47. Arana – I know two people who make their income gambling and thus are effectively professional. To them it is not entertainment. It’s a business.

    Interestingly, like the stock market, their capital gains are treated as windfall and therefore untaxed!

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  48. Dbuck – I think you misunderstood my citation. The Norwegian study demonstrates that strong controls do work in reducing both the participation and aggregate spend in gambling, with a proportioned decrease across all gambling groups (occasional through to pathological, across all age ranges) directly inferring that restriction does impact problem gamblers habits.

    Did they go so far as to say problem gamblers as an overall percentage of the gambling population was reduced? No.

    What they did infer however, was that the incidence of fast track progression to pathological gambling – something recognised to be facilitated my electronic gambling – was reduced.

    In effect, problem gamblers still gambled in similar numbers (and did so pathologically) but statistically gambled less using electronic forms overall due to access restrictions. Secondly, that fewer occasional gamblers progressed to becoming problem gamblers due to access restrictions.

    What is of interest is that this Norwegian study findings do not appear to be borne out in Australasian studies you cited. So there must be some significant other social factors unaccounted for.

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