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Former New Zealander of the Year Dr Lance O’Sullivan wants the government to ban pokie machines, saying they are causing harm.
The Kaitaia-based GP raised concerns at the International Gambling Conference earlier this year that gambling harm was apparent in his clinic on a daily basis.
He said one in five New Zealanders were impacted by a family members’ gambling addiction.
“We’re paying for the kids who aren’t going to succeed at school because they’re hungry and they’re sick. We as a society are paying for that,” Dr O’Sullivan said.
More than $3.5 million was spent on pokie machines in the Northland District last year, according to Maori public health lobby Hapai Te Hauora.
“The cost of gambling harm is not just to the individual, but extends to the family, community and burdens our health system; it is, therefore, a cost to the taxpayer,” says Hapai Te Hauora chief executive Lance Norma.
He supports the call to ban pokies, especially in high-needs communities where pokie machines are most prevalent.
According to the Problem Gambling Foundation of New Zealand, in wealthy areas, there is one pokie machine for every 465 people but in poorer areas, there is one pokie machine for every 75 people.
Maori and Pacific adults are more likely to be affected by problem gambling, with 6.2 per cent of Maori and 8 per cent of Pacific Islanders being problem or moderate-risk gamblers compared to 2.5 per cent of the total population.
Dunedin City Council unanimously voted on Wednesday to ban the establishment of any more pokie machines, new gambling venues or allowing existing outlets to relocate.
Source: European Gaming Industry News