Home' Christchurch Mail : August 16th 2012 Contents 7
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COCAINE OF GAMBLING
GROWING CONCERN: Problem Gambling Foundation national health manager Tony Milne.
Pokies wreck havoc
THE PROBLEM Gambling
Foundation sees hundreds of
desperate Cantabrians every
year but they are not the only
There are an estimated 2000
to 4000 problem gamblers living
in Christchurch, with as many
as 50,000 people affected by
their addiction in some way.
Problem Gambling national
health manager Tony Milne said
the impact of gambling on the
community far out-weighed any
gains for community groups
from the proceeds.
The foundation says over 75
per cent of callers to gambling
help lines said they were
addicted to pokie machines.
It s been said before, but
pokie machines really are the
crack cocaine of gambling.
Gaming machines have been
designed to maximise the
instant gratification of gambling
-- the flashing lights, constant
winning and losing, and the idea
the machine has to pay out
sooner or later.
Using pokies releases dopam-
ine and adrenaline into the
brain, causing a natural high
regardless of whether you have
won or lost.
Gaming addiction has been a
huge motivator of crime used
to fund addiction. About 10,000
crimes a year were committed to
support problem gamblers.
Almost a quarter of the Can-
terbury prison population was
doing time for gambling-driven
There is a correlation
between gaming and suicides
and domestic violence, Mr
Milne said. People are losing
their homes, their life savings,
There is no community good
justification for having gaming
More than 60,000 New Zea-
landers could expect to have bet-
ter mental health if pokie
machines were removed.
THE RACING industry has received
almost $90 million in pokie machine
grants since 2007.
Last year alone the Christchurch
racing establishment received three
times more pokie funding than
A bill in Parliament aims to
remove racing from the list of auth-
orised grant recipients.
The 2003 Gambling Act allowed
for the racing groups to receive pokie
grants alongside amateur sports and
The New Zealand Racing Board
went a step further and registered
itself as a gaming machine society
last year, and now distributes to
itself 80 per cent of the profits from
its 300 machines nationwide.
In the last financial year the board
awarded itself over $3 million -- on
top of the $12.5 million donated by
other gaming societies.
Problem Gambling spokesman
Tony Milne said the redirection of
gaming money into another
gambling-based industry was prob-
The racing board has opposed the
gambling amendment bill going
In its submission against the bill
the board said the funding was
essential to the industry. It justi-
fied its place on the pokie grants
list saying it provided 16,000 full-
time jobs in New Zealand and con-
tributed $1.6 billion to the econ-
Last year the Government
received $39 million in wagering
taxes from the racing industry on
top of its $196 million in taxes
from gaming machines.
The gaming bill seeks to raise
the minimum percentage of pokie
machine profits that have to be
returned to the community -- from
37.12 to 80 per cent. The bill also
proposes removing the 50 gaming
societies nationwide and replacing
them with one independent com-
mittee per region.
It will also empower local
authorities to reduce the number
of gaming machines, replacing the
current sinking-lid policy which
prevents more gaming machines
but does not actively reduce them.
HAVE YOUR SAY
What do you think about pokie machines in our communities? Do you
support the new Gambling Bill or oppose it? Have you or your loved
ones been a victim of problem gambling?
Send your comments to the editor: email@example.com or send
a text to the editor: 027 509 4814.
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