Isaac Davison is a NZ Herald political reporter.

Greens introduce gambling policy

Green Party co-leader Metiria Tureii. Photo / Sarah Ivey
Green Party co-leader Metiria Tureii. Photo / Sarah Ivey

Casinos will be banned from offering free carparks, cheap drinks and other perks to gamblers if the Green Party is elected to Government.

Anyone using an electronic gaming machine will have to use a pre-commitment card which set limits on what they could spend under a gambling policy released by the Greens this morning..

Greens co-leader Metiria Turei and gambling spokeswoman Denise Roche would distribute copies of the policy to Sky City shareholders before their annual meeting in Auckland today.

The party said that the policy was a response to the National-led Government's deal with SkyCity to allow more gaming machines to be installed at its Auckland casino, which Greens felt would increase gambling-related harm.

Ms Turei said that the best method for reducing the harm caused by pokie machines in casinos and pubs was to introduce universal pre-commitment systems.

This meant all people who used electronic gaming machines would set the number of hours they would gamble for over a day or a week, or the upper limits which they would spend. If these limits were exceeded, the machine they were using would automatically shut down.

Ms Roche claimed that responsible gamblers would not notice the difference, but the measure would "act as a brake" for people who were susceptible to becoming problem gamblers.

"It's an ambulance at the top of the cliff, rather than cleaning the mess up afterwards."

The cost of introducing pre-commitment technology was estimated at up to $2 per machine, per day, and would be rolled out in 2017.

Greens would also make player tracking compulsory, and require gaming machines to display the odds of winning and a timer which showed how long a person had been gambling.

The party would target the direct, individualised marketing that gambling venues used to encourage gambling.

Ms Roche said: "SkyCity keep a record of their loyalty customers, so once they start to drop off they tend to induce them to come back with things like free parking, free coffees, free drinks.... and they do it a lot."

Pre-commitment cards were originally part of a Maori Party gambling bill which passed into law last month, but the measure was removed at the select committee stage.

Green Party gambling policy

• Compulsory pre-commitment cards for all electronic gaming machines from 2017

• Ban on direct advertising and perks for problem gamblers

• Strengthen oversight of the Gambling Commission

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