A Christchurch publican is closing down his pokie machines on Saturday for Gamble Free Day - and says he would like to get rid of them permanently.
Mike Searle runs the Esplanade pub in New Brighton and says that the machines are a danger to the people who play them, and to everybody else dealing with them.
"In my opinion they are a social evil and shouldn't be in pubs," he says.
"I would get rid of them all together but it wouldn't be a level playing field if the other pubs in the area kept theirs so I have to keep them."
Mr Searle says the machines were in the pub when he took it over and he soon discovered the trouble they caused when a staff member was caught stealing from them.
He worries about customers he sees playing them regularly and checks to see if they can afford the losses they are making.
"Pokies are really a subsidy to pubs. I think it is a bit like the subsidies that farmers used to get.
"When they removed them the good farmers still did all right. If we got rid of pokies the good publicans that looked after their customers would do well.
"The ones that are dependant on pokies would disappear."
He estimates there are 102 pokie machines within five minutes walk of his pub.
"This is a poor area yet there is probably at least $100,000 a week going out of it through the pokies each week."
Problem Gambling Foundation Southern Regional Manager, David Coom, says that Mr Searle is showing the sort of good old fashioned Kiwi values that will allow communities to beat back the pokie invasion in the long run.
"He wants to run a good pub, make a good living, and be a responsible member of the community. He sees the damage pokies are doing and is making a stand.
"Good on him."
A march to highlight gambling harm will leave the corner of Durham and Peterborough Streets at 11.45 on Saturday. It will finish in the Square with speeches and displays.
"Afterwards we will all go to the Esplanade for a sausage sizzle," says Mr Coom.