The Prime Minister’s claim that the Government has a “sinking lid” policy on pokie machines is false, the Green Party says.
Green Party gambling spokesperson Denise Roche said the Government was actively negotiating with Sky City to increase its legal number of pokie machines by up to 500 while the total number of machines in Auckland had reduced by only 18 in the last year.
“John Key’s claim that the Government has a policy to reduce the number of pokie machines plaguing our communities is ridiculous when he’s doing a deal with a foreign owned casino to significantly boost the number of its machines.
“There is a sinking lid policy, but it belongs to legacy councils in Manukau and Waitakere, not the Government.
“The Government’s backroom deal with Sky City obliterates any good work done by local authorities to reduce machines in their communities.
“The Prime minister is trying to take credit where it’s definitely not due.
“It’s widely recognised that having more pokies means more problem gambling. The Government is ignoring this and continuing with its Sky City deal is a slap in the face to Auckland communities.
“It’s not like there weren’t other parties interested in building the convention centre.”
The Prime Minister also claimed casinos were safer environments for problem gamblers than clubs or pub with machines.
However, research from the Health Sponsorship Council, a Crown Entity, contradicted this and showed gamblers in casinos were more likely to be at-risk or problem gamblers than gamblers in pubs or clubs.
When Ms Roche questioned the Prime Minister in the House today, he said he wanted to concentrate pokie machines in casinos.