Veteran activist John Minto is set to launch a campaign of “civil disobedience” to close a controversial poker machine outlet, saying he is prepared to personally smash its machines with a hammer.
Why use a hammer. Maybe he should use a Minto Bar?
Minto yesterday led a protest outside Galaxy Takeaways, in the Otara shopping centre in South Auckland, which for the past eight months has operated 18 poker machines.
Its venue licence was cancelled recently by the Department of Internal Affairs.
But Galaxy Takeaways has been given an exemption to keep its machines working after management lodged an appeal to the Gambling Commission.
Speaking to the Sunday Star- Times in a courtyard outside the shop, Minto said he would do everything in his power to get the machines turned off for good.
“We will be back and this may come down to a case of civil disobedience,” the Mana Party vice- president Minto said.
“If outfits like this are allowed to flout the law, the community has a right to come in and assert themselves. And I think this community will come in and assert itself over places like this.
“If a community says ‘No’, I would be prepared to stand with them, all of us with hammers, and go in and smash the machines.
“Let’s do it ourselves. Let’s go in and get rid of them.”
It is a very dangerous thing when any person thinks they are above the law and have a divine right to take the law into their own hands. Far better to let the legal process run.
Minto said Mana had received figures that Galaxy Takeaways machines had “sucked” approximately $864,000 out of the Otara community.
And how much has been spent on Lotto in Otara? Will that be banned? I’m not saying pokie machines are the same as Lotto. They are more addictive. But a mere statement about how much has been allegedly spent, with no time-frame or comparison is near meaningless.
Minto said while computer games were nothing new on the premises of takeaway bars, such as Space Invaders or Pac-man, he said it was a moral outrage that one shop was now offering poker machines. “It is appalling . . . do you want pokies with your fries?” he said.
I can’t see the problem personally. I would have thought there was less harm having pokie machines in a venue you tend to spend 10 – 15 minutes at, than one where you can spend all day gambling, and getting served alcohol.
“You have got to run an entertainment centre [to have pokies]. This is not an entertainment centre, it is a fast-food outlet.”
If they do not meet the legal criteria, then they will lose their licence.