August 11, 2020
Lockdown relief from gambling problems
The COVID-19 lockdown has exposed how much pokies are taking from communities and retailers.
Last year $939 million went into gambling machines in class 4 venues such as pubs and clubs.
Research by the New Zealand Institute of Economic Research commissioned by the Salvation Army and the Problem Gambling Foundation estimated if the venues weren't there at least half of that would have gone into the retail sector.
Foundation spokesperson Andrée Froude says when venues were closed during the lockdown, a lot of gamblers expressed relief – and they didn't look for alternatives like online gambling.
The machines are concentrated in Māori and Pasifika communities, where rates of problem gambling are 2.5 times higher.
"Five times as many are in our poorer communities than in our more affluent communities. So the money going into those pokey machines is being lost from people who really can't afford to lose it. The whole system of funding our communities is inequitable, unethical, it's almost immoral because we are taking money from people who just can't afford to be losing it," Ms Froude says.
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