At his press conference yesterday, John Key argued that casinos are better at ‘harm minimisation’ than the average pokie machine operator. I tend to agree with him on that, which is why I’m disappointed his government haven’t done more to address the significant issue problem gambling is causing in some of our poorest communities.
At this point in proceedings I thought it would be useful to get a few facts about gambling in New Zealand on the table:
- New Zealanders lost $2.034 billion through gambling in 2008 of which $938 million was lost through pokies.
- $5.6 million is gambled every day in New Zealand.
- Pokies (outside casinos) took $889 million in 2009, compared to $107 million in 1991, and have 46% of the gambling market.
- 2.5million is lost every day on pokies – not including casinos.
- There are 19359 non-casino pokie machines (March 2010) in New Zealand. With casino pokies this means there is one machine for every 134 people over 18 years.
- Pokie machines are the most harmful form of gambling as over 78% of problem gamblers use them as their primary mode of gambling.
- Between 10,000 and 60,000 (0.3% and 1.8%) of adults are problem gamblers in New Zealand.
- A 2009 Ministry of Health study shows that pokie machines are concentrated in the most vulnerable communities.
- 54% venues are in decile 8,9 & 10 areas and 56% Maori and 72% Pacific peoples live in these decile areas.
- In decile 9 areas there is 1 pokie machine for every 75 people and in decile 1 areas there is 1 pokie machine per 465 people.
- A study in 2005 found that approximately 35% of foodbank clients were either problem gamblers themselves or were affected by the gambling of others.
Now that John Key has suddenly had a revelation and decided that problem gambling and pokie machines are such a big problem in low socio-economic areas, I look forward to hearing his government’s comprehensive plan to deal with the issue. I won’t be holding my breath though…