The Government should be focused on helping problem gamblers and their families, not producing PR that glorifies the pokie machine industry, the Green Party said.
The Department of Internal Affairs is producing an e-booklet to “promote the benefit of gaming machine funding to communities”, announced this week in its regular Gambits:now newsletter for the gambling industry.
“The Government should be helping problem gamblers get their lives back on track, not wasting public money on PR for the pokies industry,” Green Party internal affairs spokesperson Denise Roche said.
“The Government has its priorities totally back to front if it thinks promoting the so-called benefits of pokie machines should be on the Department of Internal Affairs’ to-do list, at the same time as the Ministry of Health is trying to reduce gambling harm.
“New Zealanders spend over $2 million every day on pokie machines, and while some of that does end up funding community projects, the social cost of problem gambling is very high.
“We need to be looking for new ways to support community sports and arts groups, and reduce gambling harm at the same time.
“The gambling industry preys on vulnerable New Zealanders. In some of our poorer communities there is as many as one pokie machine for every 75 people, compared to one for every 465 people in wealthier areas.
“One in 10 New Zealanders say someone in their family has left a bill unpaid or gone without something they need because of gambling.
“The National Government has a cushy relationship with SkyCity, and now it looks like it’s happy to spend public money on PR for the whole gambling industry too,” said Ms Roche.
Data source: Problem Gambling Foundation, “Gambling in New Zealand”.