by Denise Roche
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