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Community leaders voice their opposition to SkyCity deal

Published: 5:16AM Tuesday May 21, 2013 Source: ONE News

Auckland community leaders have voiced their opposition to the Government's convention centre deal with SkyCity.

Green Party co-leader Metiria Turei and Salvation Army representatives, were among the opponents to the recently-signed deal who gathered at a meeting in Auckland this morning. 

They are concerned the extra gambling concessions the Government has allowed in exchange for SkyCity meeting the costs of a $402 convention centre will see a sharp rise in the social harm caused by problem gambling.

Turei says it is time the Government met with community leaders rather than just SkyCity chief executives.

"Today was about giving the community a chance to have their voices heard," she said.

"The community leaders that came to today's forum are the experts on the social impacts of problem gambling and particularly the impacts on Auckland families and businesses.

"Community organisations pick up the pieces from problem gambling but they have had no opportunity to be involved in this deal."

Under the agreement, the gambling giant is allowed an additional 230 pokie machines on the casino floor, an additional 40 gaming tables, as well as other allowances.

But SkyCity says the Government bargained hard, as they originally wanted 500 more pokies.  They say casino is still legally obliged to minimise problem gambling.

SkyCity will also be able to install ticket-in, ticket-out (TITO) and card-based cashless gaming technology on all the slot machines and automated tables in the Auckland casino.

Auckland Councillor Cathy Casey, former Labour MP John Tamihere, and religious leaders were among the guests at today's meeting.