In a Media Release issued today, Family First NZ, a registered charity with the Charities Commission directed by Mr Trevor Garrett, is supporting the call for Auckland Council to make a stand against the SkyCity convention centre-for-pokie machines deal.
“The Local Government Act empowers Councils to provide for the social well-being of our communities. Family First is calling on the Auckland Council to oppose any law change which would allow the mass influx of more ‘mechanical pickpocket’ machines to Sky City. Casinos thrive on the false promise of getting rich quickly, but the reality is that those who can least afford to gamble are gambling themselves deeper into debt,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ.
“Tourists come to see the country and the culture – not the casinos. If tourists were really focused on gambling, they would be going to Las Vegas – not the Sky City casino venue in Auckland.”
“There are far too many pokie machines already in our communities. Recent figures show 1 machine for every 180 kiwis, yet 1 for every 4000 in US,” says Mr McCoskrie.
Significant risk factors include being between 25-34, Maori or Pacific ethnicity, lower educational attainment, being employed and living alone. Problem gambling is strongly associated with risky drinking behaviour and smoking. Other health problems for gamblers include stress-related health problems, major mental problems, and medical conditions.
“Of most concern is the impact on families including domestic violence, unsupervised children in casino carparks, children going without food clothes and other necessities, and US research suggesting a link between gambling and physical and emotional abuse,” says Mr McCoskrie. “The Council has a moral responsibility to do what is best for our communities
Also of note: In a questionnaire sent to all mayoral candidates and published on the website www.valueyourvote.org.nz at the time of the mayoral election in 2010, Mayor Len Brown was asked “Will you introduce and lobby for a reducing lid policy on pokie machines, especially in low socio-economic areas?” His response was “I see the harm gambling addiction does to families every day. I worked with the Problem Gambling Foundation to help introduce a “no more pokies” policy in our city (you might have seen me on their advertisements). I believe communities deserve much more of a say in the location and number of gambling outlets in their area.”
Family First website: www.familyfirst.org.nz