Pokie machines managed by the Oxford Trust in Whangarei won't operate for one hour as part of efforts to reduce the impact of gambling on Northland families.

Five sites with pokie machines throughout Whangārei will open an hour late on Monday as part of collaboration between Nga Manga Puriri Northland Problem Gambling Services and the trust to mark Gambling Harm Reduction Week.

Last year's campaign involved pausing pokie machines at five locations in Whangārei, one in Kaikohe and one in Kaitaia.

Nga Manga Puriri manager Marino Murphy is calling on other trusts such as the Pub Charity and Lions Foundation to come on board and help in efforts to reduce gambling harm.


The initiative comes as the Department of Internal Affairs (DIA) is seeking public feedback on how online gambling is affecting the lives of New Zealanders and how best to regulate it.

"The current Gambling Act is from 2003. Back then, internet technology was still developing. Lawmakers couldn't have foreseen the way that gambling would develop online 16 years on," DIA said.

The Government department plans to update laws for today's digital world and future-proof them as much as possible.

Murphy supported the review, saying her counsellors were seeing an increase in online gambling in Northland that left cash-strapped families further in debt.

"We get IT specialists to block online gambling sites because there's been instances where the problem gamblers have blocked then unblocked sites. Online gambling is difficult to monitor and control.

"They don't seek help until they are in crisis. Those that play pokies can self exclude themselves from those sites but that can't be done for online gamblers," she said.

She said while local councils may have a sinking lid policy for the number of gaming machines and venues, the policy was not working.

Murphy said problem gamblers that sought help often have other issues that needed to be dealt with such as anger, violence, and a lack of money.


Northlanders spent $9.1m in the first quarter of this year on gambling machines.