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Govt partnership with casinos bad for families

Contributor:
Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
Govt partnership with casinos bad for families

Family First NZ says that the government-casino partnership is simply an attempt by the government to 'gamble' their way out of difficult financial times, and that tourists comes to New Zealand to see the country - not the casinos

"Tourists come to see the country and the culture - not the casinos. If tourists were really focused on gambling, they would be going to Las Vegas - not the Sky City casino venue in Auckland," says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ.

"Casinos thrive on the false promise of getting rich quickly, but the reality is that those who can least afford to gamble are gambling themselves deeper into debt. The government should be protecting families - not fleecing them. It is ironic that the government is targeting loan sharks at the same time as increasing the number of pokie machines."

"Pokie machines have been referred to as 'mechanical pickpockets'. Today's pokie machines are designed to be the most addictive form of gambling ever developed. Addiction counselors and psychologists are calling video gambling the "crack cocaine" of the gambling industry. People are becoming addicted to these machines within a year."

A 2008 study outlined the socio-economic impact of gambling, stating that there are many tangible and intangible costs on health and wellness, including poor health or morbidity, stress, depression and anxiety, suicide or other premature mortality, substance abuse (alcohol, tobacco and illicit drugs related to gambling), and loss of value of time with family and friends. The Australian Productivity commission found that 5 to 10 other people can be directly affected to varying degrees by the behaviour of a problem gambler.

"There are far too many pokie machines in our communities. Recent figures show 1 machine for every 180 kiwis, yet 1 for every 4000 in US," says Mr McCoskrie.

Significant risk factors include being between 25-34, Maori or Pacific ethnicity, lower educational attainment, being employed and living alone. Problem gambling is strongly associated with risky drinking behaviour and smoking. Other health problems for gamblers include stress-related health problems, major mental problems, and medical conditions.

"Of most concern is the impact on families including domestic violence, unsupervised children in casino carparks, children going without food clothes and other necessities, and US research suggesting a link between gambling and physical and emotional abuse," says Mr McCoskrie.

"A government partnership with the gambling industry spells bad news for families."

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