Rise of Gambling in Christchurch

Since Christchurch was hit by a devastating Earthquake earlier this year, gambling rates in the area have spiked. The popularity of playing poker machines among Christchurch residents is at an all-time high, causing gaming experts to wonder why this correlation has occurred.

Over the course of the summer, spending on pokies rose by more than $4 million. Total spending reached nearly $23 million, a 10% increase over the same period of time in the previous year. The rise in spending has been incredibly dramatic and as such, is cause for concern among politicians and problem gambling organizations.

Many of the area’s gaming venues were damaged in the Earthquake, but that has no deterred residents from finding ways to spend money on poker machines. Despite the fact that there are fewer people and fewer gaming machines, the rate of gambling continues to increase across Christchurch.

Analysts have set out to figure out why the rise in gambling spending has occurred. According to Ton Milne of the Problem Gambling Foundation, residents of Christchurch have turned to playing pokies as a way to deal with the stress caused by the recent Earthquakes. As it is quite common to use gaming as a form of stress relief, the situation seems to have gotten out of control in Christchurch. Although it has yet to be proven, it is believed that this rise in gambling spending could lead to spike in problem gambling rates.

To deal with the issue, politicians in the area are hoping to enforce Christchurch’s gambling laws. Currently, there is a sinking lid policy on pokies, restricting the addition of new poker machines in the area. Bar and club owners have asked that the policy be lifted so that they can replace machines that were damaged in the Earthquake and move working machines to new locations. However, politicians are working hard to ensure that this does not happen.

“We should reduce the presence of pokies in our City and it is the right thing to do for Christchurch families,” says Paul McMahon, a member of the Spreydon-Heathcote Community Board.

The Problem Gambling Foundation hopes that the sudden rise in gambling is just a temporary reaction to the devastation of the earthquakes. In the meantime, families can contact the foundation if they suspect someone they know has a gambling addiction for help with the issue.