Is pokies reduction solving problem gambling in New Zealand?
Kiwi gamblers have lost around $843 million to pokies machines last year. This amount is said to be the largest so far since 2012. Government statistics show that $843.5 million was drained by pokie games in the Q2 of 2016 was higher than any other 12-month period since Q3 of 2012.
Gamblers Unfazed Pokies Reduction
What’s alarming about this news? Pokies have already been reduced. There are less than 1,500 machines in New Zealand now. It’s a contrasting notion that steady declines in pokie revenues were reported since 2004.
This year’s figure was $25.4m which was 3.1 % higher than the previous 12 months. New Zealand has around 16,250 machines nationwide. Each machine makes an average of $51,900, which is the average of full-time Kiwi employee earns. The aforementioned figures represents gamblers’ net loss which is the total amount wagered sans any winnings.
The current state of pokies in relation to problem gambling has urged a researcher to question efforts by the government to reduce gambling addiction issues.
Should do the government revisit pokies regulations and propose amendments?
Pokie Machines Dwindling But Problem Gambling Rates Increase
Associate director of Auckland University’s Centre for Addiction Research, Peter Adams, says that there are numerous groups with highly dependent on the revenue of gambling operations which could slim down significant changes in gambling regulations.
“I can’t see things changing in any significant way until community groups and the Government say we are not comfortable accepting money from problem gamblers. That’s highly unlikely because people are very invested in it. People have come to rely on funding from that source.”
“I think these are dangerous machines that have the capacity to ruin people’s lives, so I think we should be treating them like other harmful products, and looking very carefully at them,” added, Peter Adams.
Manager of Tauranga’s Salvation Army Bridge and Oasis programme, Daryl Wesley, has mentioned that there was a dramatic increase in people who are seeking appropriate counselling for problem gambling issues.
“In the last six to eight weeks, we have seen more people walk in off the street seeking support for problem gambling than we had seen in the six months previous to that,” Mr Wesley said.
Are Gambling Operators Doing Their Part?
Pokies machine owners are only required to carry 4 machines. Gaming legislation states that it needs to distribute a minimum of 40% of gambling proceeds as grants. The Crown took 20% of proceeds as a levy, while 1.51% proceeds were allocated to problem gambling support services.
“We take problem gambling very seriously, and do the very best we can to ensure the distribution of the money that comes from gambling is done to achieve the best outcome for the community,” said, Murray Reade, Chief Executive of Community Gaming Trust Lion Foundation.
The big question right now is: while land-based pokies are reduced, are online pokies contributing to problem gambling as well?