$30mil down the slots in NZ pubs and clubs

By Leah Te Whata

Small gambling venues need to do more to prevent harmful gambling. This from Problem Gambling Foundation following the release of a Department of Internal Affairs report which found, pokies machines in small venues don't have continuous supervision against problem gambling like casinos do.

None of the clubs that were part of a Ministry of Internal Affairs mystery shopper exercise passed the host responsibility test, a legal requirement for gambling venues.

Problem Gambling Foundation CEO Paula Snowden says, "The law is here to protect people, these machines are not just harmless flashing lights & bells & whistles they are addictive by design people get caught in the trap of false hope."

In disadvantaged areas, there is one machine for every 75 people, in other areas the count is one for every 465.

"You've got poor areas with lot's of machines in pubs & clubs where you would expect that the staff would know the patrons, have a relationship would them, none of them in the mystery shopper exercise passed the test and that's really bad."

In 2016 New Zealanders spent $30mil more on machines in pubs and clubs than they did the previous year. 

"$30mil, where's that money coming from? It's not feeding children, it's not helping with housing and the machines are sucking the life out of people and we need to see host responsibility to respect people."

Snowden says that there is a correlation between gambling and family violence.

"The stress of loss of losing of going home and facing your family not having the money that they thought you had, The stresses and the depression attached to losing all the time it does it creates family violence. So if we could bring down gambling problems in New Zealand we could help with the family violence and of course, it's more money for children and more money for housing."

The Department of Internal Affairs will use the results of the mystery shopper exercise as a key piece of information to target high-risk venues.