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Gambling (Gambling Harm Reduction) Amendment Bill

CPAG welcomes this review of the Gambling Act 2003, and the chance to revisit the impact of class 4 gaming machines (‘pokies’) and venues.

A key feature of the existing legislation is the limited opportunity communities currently have to limit the number of pokie machines in their neighbourhoods. While CPAG generally welcomes communities having a greater say in the number of pokies in their neighbourhoods, we have some reservations about some aspects of the Bill.

Read the full submission here

CPAG welcomes this review of the Gambling Act 2003, and the chance to revisit the impact of class 4 gaming machines (‘pokies’) and venues.
A key feature of the existing legislation is the limited opportunity communities currently have to limit the number of pokie machines in their neighbourhoods. While CPAG generally welcomes communities having a greater say in the number of pokies in their neighbourhoods, we have some reservations about some aspects of the Bill.

CPAG also welcomes the chance to reconsider the role of gaming machine trusts in the collection and distribution of gaming funds, although we do not view the role for Councils suggested here as a suitable alternative for reasons discussed below.

We are, however, broadly supportive of the Bill and endorse its aim of reducing the harm done by pokie machines in low-income communities, and to Maori and Pasifika peoples in particular. Notwithstanding the claims of the gaming trusts, the fact is that only a small proportion of the funds lost to pokie machines in the poorest communities ever come back as grants.

CPAG also supports the emphasis on the right to operate a class 4 machine as set out in local authority policy as a licence to operate rather than a property right. Operators are in communities often against the will of communities themselves, and as such they do not have an inalienable right to be there.

The diagrams at the end of this submission show the expenditure per capita on pokie machines alongside the number of machines per capita in New Zealand as a whole, and for the Auckland region. What is striking is that the most affluent regions and suburbs do not have the same density of pokie machines as much poorer towns and suburbs, for example Kawarau and Papakura in South Auckland. So, for example, Orakei which includes Remuera, Mission Bay and Kohimarama, has an exceptionally low concentration of 17 machines for every 10,000 local population and a spend of $69 per person per year. This compares with Papakura, which has a concentration of 45 machines per 10,000 people and spend per person of $271. It is not enough to argue that low-income communities are simply exercising ‘choice’. Pokie machines present a clear social hazard in communities with a high proportion of residents desperate for cash, and are designed to be addictive. Like any addiction, it is not just the individuals concerned who are affected: it is their families, communities, and in some cases their employers. Reducing the damage from pokie machines does not limit anyone’s ‘choice’, and is a valid and worthwhile social policy goal.

Read the full submission here

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