Members of Porirua community are expected to urge the authorities for tougher measures on poker machines, while consultation on the proposed Class 4 gambling policy of the City Council is to be brought to an end by the end of the week.
The verbal hearings are scheduled to take place at Te Rauparaha Arena on June 12th, with the community members set to voice their concerns regarding the controversial poker machines and the harm they cause to community and most vulnerable members of society.
A local community member, Tony Sutoris, is one of the people who are set to be speaking at the hearing. He claims that pokies have a negative impact on Porirua and according to him, there is no actual demand for them in the community. He said that poker machines steal from the poorest and despite the fact that pokie operators are trying to look ethical by giving a portion of the machines’ revenue for some good causes in the community, the machines are still corrupting the community’s efforts to simply say no to them.
Apart from that, Mr Sutoris further claimed that the poker machines could not compensate for the harm caused to the Porirua community’s most vulnerable members. He shared that for every dollar which is taken by the machines, pokies operators bring back only seven cents, so it is obviously not worth the harm they are causing to society.
Sinking Lid Policy on Poker Machines Could Be the Best Solution for Porirua
According to reports, last year, a total amount of almost NZ$13 million was lost on the twelve Porirua City’s venues which offer poker machines. At the time, there are 165 pokies in the community, and ten of the twelve venues are situated in the most deprived areas of the City.
Gambling-related harm can affect anyone, but earlier research has indicated that both Māori and Asia-Pacific people are considered to be more susceptible to gambling harm and more predisposed to developing gambling addictions.
The spokesperson for Ngāti Toa, Naomi Solomon, explained that there is currently a large number of Māori people living in Porirua. Furthermore, Ms Solomon shared that these people are disproportionately-affected by poker machines. She also called for the City Council to take stricter actions in regard to the poker machines as they are highly addictive. According to Ms Solomon, the measures which are being proposed by the Council are just not enough to protect the vulnerable people, so such people continued to be losing money on pokies, regardless they could not afford to lose more money.
According to the National Director Pacific Services at Mapu Maia, Peshi Ah-Honi, poker machines would have a significant impact on the local community, considering the large number of Asia-Pacific people who currently live in Porirua. As she explained, more than 26% of the Porirua population to date are Asia-Pacific people. Ms Ah-Honi also called for the City Council to take a stricter stance to make sure that most vulnerable members of the community are protected.
Ms Ah-Honi said that in her opinion, a sinking lid policy would be the best solution for the City, with no relocations or club mergers permits.