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Poker Machines for the High Jump

There is a strong probability that the town will shortly be shot of 28 poker machines.

The deleterious social effects on people in this town and its environs have been obvious for some considerable time. That these effects are more pronounced amongst Maori is very obvious, as is the fact that the payout of proceeds in the form of grants tends to benefit better-off sections of the community. I could draw attention for instance to the substantial grants made to golf clubs on the Peninsula for the purchase of extremely expensive ($100,000 plus) green-keeping equipment - clearly identifiable on a cursory examination of  documents provided to the previous Council during its 5 yearly Gambling Review.  

That Council resolved to put in place a 'sinking lid' policy in the face of the strongest possible lobbying by the national organisation representing the trusts that own the machines, and handle the allocation of the balance of proceeds not siphoned off for 'operating expenses'.

It has been a blatant racket of course for ever and a day, and several 'trustees' have ended up behind bars as a result, but the faulty system remains in place. Even prior to Council taking this action, allocations to Thames were demonstrably lower than either the size of population, or machine income should have warranted, and indications are that the town has been 'penalised' ever since because of the previous Council's stand. 

One of the hotels is about to drop its machines because of the undesirable element they attract, and the Goldmine in the centre of town is apparently about to be replaced by the Stirling Sports store which is moving from Goldfields - another nail in the fortunes of that complex. This move will certainly bring about a most desirable improvement in the ambiance of the central town area.

The 'sinking lid' policy prevents the sale or removal of the poker machines to any other location. The total number of machines in the town will therefore be reduced by 28% from 100 to 72. This cannot come soon enough as far as I am concerned, but I am well aware of the sports organisations that have benefitted from the Trusts in the past, and that prefer to take a pragmatic if self-interested approach.

These organisations will of course find sourcing of funds from these Trusts much harder in the future. They should keep in mind the social benefits likely to accrue from the slow but sure elimination of these pernicious machines from the town, as has happened to good effect elsewhere.




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Reader Comments (2)

Gambling is a cancer that tends to attact those most vulnerable, and so it can only be a good thing to see the number of machines reduce.
Your comment Bill about those groups that seek funding support from gambling machine Trusts is on the money also and reveals a real tension in our society. Your golf club comment may well be typical, and perhaps highlight a hypocrisy that exists in some sections of contemporary New Zealand society. While on the one hand deploring the effects of such things as gambling and clamoring for action, we also express concern at the effect the loss of funding options will have on our communities.
It is time for both the setting of some community priorities and making the hard decisions around societal effect wrought by the more pernicious effects of gambling, alcohol, drugs and the like.
It is good that TCDC is attempting to take a leadership position.
This needs to be supported by the wider community with action, both in the home, and on the street. Local body leadership exists in a vacuum if the community does not follow through.
Now is the time for our community to step up.

October 18, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterRussell

At first look the moral tone of the above two comments could bring on a "good on yer' thought, but as usual it's not that simple. Our justice system says adults are responsible for their actions. They have a right to decide for themselves from the choices available. What they decide to do depends on the influences they have been exposed to from early childhood. Parents, peers, books, education, advertising, and so on. Is gambling a form of sickness or just another form of greed that is used to manipulate us? Thinking we know what others should be allowed to do is the start of tyrany.

October 19, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterPeter H Wood.

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