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New Zealand officials urged to reduce pokies

6 February 2007

NEW ZEALAND – (PRESS RELEASE) -- Wellington City Greens spokesperson Iona Pannett today called for the Council to reduce the number of pokie machines in the capital, as it begins consultation on its Gaming Venue Policy this Thursday.

"The Council is effectively gambling with the health and welfare of Wellingtonians if they don't put a lid on the spread of pokie machines in the city," said Ms. Pannett.

"The Council estimates at a conservative guess that there are 3,000-4,000 problem gamblers in the city and that for every problem gambler five other people are affected by the gambling.

"The Council has done no cost benefit analysis of the costs borne by the community due to problem gambling. Costs include providing services and support to gamblers as well as the wider costs to society of family breakdown, domestic violence and bankruptcy."

Ms. Pannett said that the Greens were calling for the adoption of a sinking lid policy which would ban new machines, with the overall aim of reducing the numbers over time. She pointed out that other Councils have adopted such a policy including Auckland and Christchurch City Councils.

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