Hospo industry gets pokie focus wrong

Hospitality New Zealand’s call to allow new bars a share in community pokie profits shows its priorities are all wrong, says Labour’s Internal Affairs spokesperson Ruth Dyson.

“Reducing the harm caused by problem gambling should be the first priority- not securing a cut of the profits.

“Hospitality New Zealand says the aim of its proposal is to ensure new bars are not disadvantaged by the limited number of gaming licenses and that a percentage-based commission from pokie profits is a fairer system of funds allocation.

“Labour does not agree with that analysis. These ideas would both represent a leap backwards in terms of local democracy and problem harm reduction. 

“Transferring pokie machines would directly undermine the informed decision making processes of local councils.  It would see pokies moved from low profit areas into areas already battling with problem gambling.

“The second proposal, which would allow bars to earn a percentage-based commission from profits, is a blatant financial incentive for operators to encourage pokie use and is at odds with all best practice examples for harm reduction.

“Parliament is currently considering Māori Party MP Te Ururoa Flavell’s Gambling (Gambling Harm Reduction) Amendment Bill.

“The hospitality industry would do better to support some of the measures in this Bill, such as installing harm-minimisation devices in machines and ensuring that pokie profits were returned to within the local authority area from where it was raised.

“Low income communities are sick of being the target for bottle stores and pokie machines. The hospitality industry should be a part of the solution, not part of the problem,” Ruth Dyson said.