David Fisher

David Fisher is a senior reporter for the NZ Herald.

Poll finds 87pc support for culling pokies in poor areas

Photo / File
Photo / File

Nine out of every 10 people in Auckland want cuts to the number of poker machines in the poorest and most vulnerable parts of the city.

A Curia poll found support from 87 per cent of respondents as lawmakers prepare to set new rules governing the availability of poker machines.

The "No More Pokies" coalition of 20 community organisations delivered 9061 submissions to Auckland Council on the final day last week of public consultation over the first city-wide gambling policy.

It aims to set policies for non-casino pokie venues, with 4069 gambling machines in pubs and clubs across the city. Local governments are obliged by law to set policies and the new policy was the first chance to have a unified approach across Auckland.

The council opened public debate on the issue with a draft which would drive down the number of machines in Auckland with a sinking-lid policy.

The timing of the debate comes as the Government negotiates a boost of 300 pokies at SkyCity casino in return for it building a convention centre. Gambling is also occupying Parliament's commerce select committee, which is preparing to release a report into private member's legislation to reduce gambling harm.

Problem Gambling Foundation national health manager Tony Milne said a sinking-lid policy would stop licences to run pokies being transferred from bars and clubs which closed.

"The most powerful submissions come from people who have experienced the harm from pokie machines with accounts of lives ... torn apart by pokie machines."

Family First director Bob McCoskrie released a poll last week showing huge support for cuts to pokies in the city's poorest areas.

Those polled reflected voting percentages in the 2011 election but showed a broad support for cuts to pokies in the city's poorest areas.

Community Gaming Association director Brian Corbett, spokesman for the pokie trust lobby, said a sinking lid did not work and would actually damage communities which needed help.

"By removing gaming machines from supposedly low-decile areas, if you take the view funding should be returned to the communities where it is spent, then they are the ones who will suffer most."

- NZ Herald

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