In Christchurch, victims of the recent Earthquake have turned to poker machines to deal with their grief. As a result, problem gambling rates are on the rise and John Minto – Vice President of the Mana Movement – believes that residents should be able to have the power to ban poker machines from their communities.
Last year, the number of money lost on poker machines rose by nearly 10%. This brought the total amount of losses to over $100 million for the first time ever. Community leaders have reason to believe that the Earthquake has caused their spike in gambling rates, as those suffering from the disaster play poker machines as a form of escapism.
“How can this government sit by and allow pokie profits to rise when they know that those who are impoverished are the victims who gamble?”, Minto asks.
John Minto believes that poker machines prey on the poorer areas of the community, as half of the pokies in Christchurch are concentrated in the areas with the lowest average income and employment rates. He suggests that locals should be able to have a say in how many poker machines are allowed in a community, vetoing the addition of new machines and venues if they see fit.