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Casino deal feeds 'an engine of crime' - Greens

Published: 11:18AM Wednesday July 11, 2012 Source: ONE News

The Prime Minister's convention centre for pokies deal continues to haunt him, with critics saying the deal will make crime and problem gambling worse.

Green Party spokesperson on gambling Denise Roche said the deal with SkyCity to increase the number of pokies at the casino in order to get a 'free convention centre' does not stack up.

"You're getting the Government suggesting they will be complicit in what is a harmful industry in order to deliver what Auckland needs, which is a convention centre, it is not on," she told TV ONE's Breakfast.

She said Prime Minister John Key has not considered the social harm the move will have.

"If you're looking at at least 500 more pokies at the casino you're looking at at least 500 more problem gamblers and you are also looking at the other social indicators of crime.

"The casino is an engine of crime it can't exist without money launderers and problem gamblers."

Private investigator Danny Toresen said yesterday that the casino it is the perfect environment to launder money.

"You can go in there with a suitcase full of money. You can exchange that for chips or you can put that in a credit into a machine and gamble for five minutes and take it out again," he said.

"A lot of cases we deal with, the driver is a gambling addiction and the biggest source of entertainment for the workplace thief is the casino."

PM 'misguided'

Critics of the deal believe the Prime Minister's claim no more pokie machines will enter the community is misguided.

Key said on TV ONE's Breakfast programme in May that SkyCity would not get any more than 483 gaming machines, the number he predicted will be lost this year through attrition.

"This year alone we are going to take 483 pokie machines out of service, if you like, across New Zealand. SkyCity will get less than that," Key said.

ONE News wanted to ask Key how he came up with the figure, but he did not want to talk.

Figures show that in 2011, 483 community based pokie machines disappeared nationwide. But 204 of them were destroyed in the Christchurch quake.

Critics of the deal say transplanting machines from the community to the casino is not a zero sum equation.

"Pokie machines are very different, it is like comparing a Mini to a Ferrari," said Andree Froude from the Problem Gambling Foundation.

"Is there not something morally repugnant about funding a convention centre at huge social costs to our community?"

Figures show club machines take an average $48,000 a year, while a SkyCity pokie machine takes an estimated $140,000.

"It is 24/7. People can get up at two o'clock in the morning and gamble at SkyCity if they want to," said Froude.

While club machines set pokie bet limits, casino pokies are different.

The Government's decision to offer SkyCity the option of more pokie machines in return for the construction of a new $350 million convention centre is currently subject to an independent inquiry from the Auditor General's office.

What do you think about the pokies deal? Have your say on the messageboard below.

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  • mistarex said on 2012-07-10 @ 21:32 NZDT: Report abusive post

    Foot in mouth time again John, you are Prime Minister of NZ, not CEO of NZ Ltd..he can't seem to see beyond the dollar, most kiwis live a lifestyle he has no experience of..quite a few levels down and as for social consequence, he doesn't seem to care a bean eh.....

  • wiel said on 2012-07-10 @ 18:34 NZDT: Report abusive post

    Unless all the current Skytower pokies are used 24/7 with a queue of people waiting, a few more pokies are not going to make much of a difference to addicted gamblers or money launderers. Those arguments are just not logical!

  • adrienne @ manawatu said on 2012-07-10 @ 18:14 NZDT: Report abusive post

    John Key should be very worried about increased pokie machines in NZ. Gambling related fraud is a hidden disease in NZ and businesses are being negatively affected by this every day. They don't disclose it because they are embarrased that a staff member with a gambling addiction is able to defraud the company. More pokie machines equals more social and economic problems for this country. Front up John Key.