The roll-out of 470 new gambling machines and tables at SkyCity’s Auckland casino from today, as reported on RNZ this morning, will hit families in the pocket and put already-vulnerable Kiwis at further risk, the Green Party said.
The multi-national gambling corporation is allowed to increase the number of tables and machines as part of its highly controversial back-room deal with the National Government, in exchange for building a new convention centre.
“SkyCity may be laughing all the way to the bank but for many families and people struggling with addiction, this is a terrible day,” said Green Party Auckland issues spokesperson Denise Roche.
“Having more pokie machines in downtown Auckland contributes absolutely nothing towards making our city more liveable or a more desirable place to visit.
“Pokie machines aren’t ‘cool’ or ‘sophisticated’ – in fact for lots of Kiwi families they represent addiction and absolute misery.
“Just last month, it was revealed that SkyCity allowed a person to sit at a pokie machine for 10 hours, spending hundreds of dollars, without any interference from casino staff.
“It wasn’t the first time they’ve been shown to be lax with their host responsibility requirements and it’s unlikely to be the last either.
“The whole convention centre deal was dodgy. The Government was found by the Auditor-General to have given SkyCity special treatment when it said: ‘The meetings and discussion between the Government representatives and SkyCity were materially different in quantity and kind from those between the Government and the other parties that responded.’
“This was a rotten deal for Aucklanders from the word go.
“Letting SkyCity grow its gambling empire in Auckland city is a terrible thing the National Government has done to Auckland and to Kiwis.
“The Government was desperate to endear themselves to their good mates at SkyCity and they pulled out all the stops to get this deal over the line, including letting them put these new pokies in before the convention centre is even built.
“The sod hasn’t even been turned on the convention centre but already Kiwi families are paying the price for National’s close, personal relationship with SkyCity,” said Ms Roche.