The Tararua community is being urged by the Problem Gambling Foundation to
have a say in Tararua District Council's upcoming gambling policy review.
The foundation says the harm from pokies far outweighs the benefits from community funding. Spokeswoman Andree Froude says it is important to consider where the money that goes into pokie machines is actually coming from.
She was responding to an article in Hawke's Bay Today by Bruce Robertson, a representative of a gaming industry group, who listed organisations that had received funding from pokie grants.
Froude said while many worthy organisations receive funding from pokies, this is only telling half the story.
"Over $3.8 million was lost on the 115 pokie machines housed in nine venues in the district last year," she said.
"The spend has increased from the previous year despite the number of venues and pokie machines going down. When that amount of money is being lost in a community, there will definitely be harm.
"Pokies in pubs and clubs are the most harmful form of gambling and account for almost 50 per cent of people who seek help about their gambling. Research states that 40 per cent of the money lost on pokies comes from people experiencing harm from their gambling," she said.
"There are five times as many pokies in the most deprived areas of New Zealand as the least deprived areas. In Tararua District, seven of the nine venues are located in the area of highest deprivation in the district.
"That means money is coming out of the pockets of those who can least afford it."
Harmful gambling has a significant impact on communities, causing child neglect, poverty, family violence, fraud, poor mental health and loss of employment.
The foundation urges the council to introduce a sinking lid policy on pokies with no relocations or club mergers.
But the council has had a sinking lid policy in place for a number of years.
Froude says it is the best policy available to get the numbers of pokies down but it's a slow process.
"Bruce Robertson's comment about a further reduction in pokie numbers leading people to gamble on offshore internet sites is false and a recent study shows there has been a decline in the number of New Zealanders gambling on overseas websites since 2014.
"There is absolutely no amount of charity that can compensate for the harm caused by highly addictive pokie machines, so we urge the Tararua community to have a say about pokies in their neighbourhood," Froude said.