Kelly Makiha is the Rotorua Daily Post's head of news

Editorial: Is deal worth cost?


As debate rages over whether the Government should have struck a deal with SkyCity in Auckland over building a new international convention centre, closer to home we revealed how much we are spending locally on pokie machines.

In the year to March 31, local punters spent about $520,000 less on pokies compared to the previous 12 months.

Figures from the Department of Internal Affairs show $33.6 million was spent at Western Bay gaming machines in the year to March, down from $34.1 million in the previous year.

Supporters say pokies provide our city with vital funds for things such as major concerts, sports clubs and educational needs but the flip side is quite scary.

Children have been left in cars alone while gambling-addicted parents sit at pokie machines and families have lost homes, jobs, reputations and clean criminal records.

I for one am not celebrating a slight drop in the money being spent on local pokies - money which would would go a long way to buying more important things in our city.

Getting back to the Auckland debate, a flash new international convention centre would be great. It will generate jobs, bring more money into New Zealand and likely more tourists.

But in my view, the way this has come about will always reek.

SkyCity is only funding the project on the condition it gets 230 more pokie machines and other concessions, including an extended operating licence until 2048.

To allow that to happen, Prime Minister John Key changed the law.

What's the point of having laws if you're just going to change them to suit your needs - controversial ones at that?

The debate over pokie machines and casinos won't go away any time soon.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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