The other side of the pokies debate

The NZ Community Trust have pointed out:

NZCT, one of New Zealand’s largest funders of amateur sport, is urging not to implement a sinking lid policy for gaming machines, as this will reduce community funding and do nothing to address problem gambling rates.  Instead, NZCT proposes Council set gaming machine numbers according to the risk assessment of problem gambling in each ward, and allow machines to be relocated out of high risk areas. 

A targeted approach does seem more sensible than a blanket sinking lid.

NZCT chief executive, Mike Knell, says he can understand the Council’s desire to reduce problem gambling, but evidence shows that reducing gaming machine numbers does not change problem gambler numbers.

“Statistics from the Department of Internal Affairs and the Ministry of Health show that since 2007 the country has lost over 2,000 , but problem gambling rates have remained low and relatively static,” says Mr Knell.  “The only thing a sinking lid policy will achieve is a reduction in funds available for gaming trusts to distribute to sports and community groups. 

Pokie machines get used by problem gamblers. But do they create them?

“We believe that implementing a policy which allows gaming trusts to relocate gaming machines out of high risk areas, and sets machine numbers in accordance with risk factors would be a better approach.  A sinking lid is a blunt policy instrument that could severely impact the financial viability of hundreds of Auckland’s sports clubs and community groups. 

The NZ Community Trust gave almost $38 million to amateur sports and other activities last year. We do need to be careful not to throw out the baby with the bathwater.

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