Local New Zealand council tackles problem gambling

Originally Posted on Sunday May 16 11:42:00 BST 2010

Local councils in Palmeston North and Tararua, New Zealand, are cracking down on problem gambling by cutting the number of gaming machines in the area.

Their policy is to prohibit any new pokie machines until the number falls below 100. This is not what was agreed by the council in 2007, when their policy was to allow an unlimited number of gaming machines in the area, but with the maximum number in each venue not exceeding nine.

The Tararua mayor, Maureen Reynolds, claims that the area has one of the highest machines per person ratios, and it is time to impose some restrictions.  She further stated that it was the local authorities responsibility to try and curb the rise in problem gamblers.

The action taken by this district is not being reflected by the Government, who will be spending less on curbing the problem over the next three years.

The Government has already announced that the Problem Gambling Levy, a tax imposed on operators, will not change.

The chief executive of the Problem Gambling Foundation of New Zealand said that a huge amount of money was lost by gamblers each year, and about 40% of the money lost on pokies is done so by people with a problem.  Therefore, any decrease by Government on spending on problem gambling was a disappointment.

Online gambling, on machines similar to pokies, continues to be very popular in New Zealand, but because operators are not allowed to carry out their business within New Zealand shores, it is quite possible that the Government is missing out on tax opportunities, some of which could be used to help people with problems.

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