Pokies continue to drain most deprived communities

Problem Gambling Foundation Chief Executive Officer Paula Snowden says the harm of pokies is coming from the very communities least able to afford it. Photo: NZ Kaniva Pacific.

Online tools to support Pasifika and Māori impacted by gambling harm are being developed as the devastation of gambling in Waikato’s poorest communities is revealed.

A flabbergasting $82 million was lost on class four pokies across the Waikato in the 2020-21 financial year.

That means that 95 per cent of the profits from pokies across the region are coming from the poorest communities.

“Every day $224,756.34 is being lost on these machines across the region. That is about $300 per person aged over 18 years,” says Problem Gambling Foundation Chief Executive Officer Paula Snowden.

“Overall, the amount lost on pokies went up by seven percent in Waikato in the last year. Nationwide the amount lost on pokies has been trending upward and is now rapidly approaching $1 billion, the highest in five years.”

Along with South Waikato District, the Thames-Coromandel District is a serious concern after $11,746,947 was lost over 2020-21.

“We are always concerned when we know the money lost on pokies is coming from some of the most deprived communities in Aotearoa and the impact is being felt by those communities.”

The Thames-Coromandel District has 248 pokies across 20 venues.

Of the 20 venues, six are located in the most socially deprived communities in and around the Thames CBD.

The Council’s communications and economic development group manager Laurna White says its Gambling Policy was reviewed in 2020 and endorses a “Sinking Lid” approach.

The policy shows no new consents for pokie machines (class four gambling machines) will be granted, and any venues with pokie machines (class 4 gambling venues) that cease to operate will result in a reduction of pokie machine numbers in the district.

The policy also allows a 'relocation provision', where pokie machines operators may now apply to Council for a consent to relocate to a new location.

The Salvation Army says the over-representation of pokie machines in poor areas is a result of gambling industry activity, and a key social cause of poverty and inequity, which disproportionately affects Pasifika and Māori.

“From our records we have not seen any tangata whaiora (person seeking health) from the Thames-Coromandel District over the past year,” says Salvation Army Oasis Director Lisa Campbell.

“However, we have discussed internally widening our service delivery to the Thames-Coromandel area as it is a potentially high risk location with high losses per capita.”

Campbell says as a means to support the Thames-Coromandel District, they are working with the Problem Gambling Foundation, Deakin University and the University of Auckland to develop e-gambling tools.

“(The) i-CBT (internet Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) has been developed to be delivered in conjunction with in-person counselling but not piloted yet. The i-CBT is tailored support to tangata whaiora that is customized to meet the needs of tangata who access support from gambling harm services. There are several online gambling modules that tangata work through at their own pace from the comfort of their home or onsite.”

“The modules are interactive (using photos and videos), provide tasks to do to reflect on their own gambling and understand why they gamble and harm arising from their gambling behavior and tools they can use to limit or reduce gambling. Delivery is via a purpose-built website.”

-Local Democracy Reporting is Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air

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1 Comment

The people with the highest motivation...

Posted on 26-04-2022 12:56 | By morepork

... to gamble, are the poor. Middle class people (with any sense) gamble no more than they can afford to lose and see it as "entertainment". But the poor see it as "a chance". How else could a poor man ever get the kind of money paid out in a jackpot? Ironically, if they win, it is fatal. Because they only ever remember that win, and from then on they spend everything to try and do it again. I’m not sure that we really need pokie machines to enhance our lives and perhaps we’d be better off overall without them.... Sure, profits can assist charities, but we may be getting more people into needing charity because of them. Not replacing venues that close (allowing attrition to lower the numbers) is a good move in my opinion.

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