Pokie figures paint grim picture
Pokie machines are sucking up increasing sums in parts of central Auckland despite the number of machines staying the same.
Department of Internal Affairs figures for the 2016 financial year show large increases in the amount of money being put into pokies across Auckland. The figures, requested by the Problem Gambling Foundation (PGF), showed that in central Auckland areas which experienced a reduction in gaming venues also had a reduction in annual pokies revenue.
Areas that had no reduction, such as the Albert-Eden area, had an increase in gaming revenue. In 2015 $13.7 million was spent on pokies in the Albert-Eden area. By 2016, that number had increased by $1.2m to $14.9m, with gamblers pouring more than $40,000 a day into the slots. The PGF also identified Pt Chevalier has a ‘‘pokie hub’’.
New Zealanders sank $843m into pokie machines in the 2016 financial year, up $25m on 2015. From 2010 through to 2015, there had been a steady decline nationally on pokie revenue before the latest spike.
PGF councillor Bonnie LovichHewit believed accessibility to machines was to blame for the increase. ‘‘This research tells us there is a clear correlation between accessibility and harm,’’ she said.
In the Waitemata Local Board region, the number of gaming venues was reduced from 24 to 21 in the 2016 financial year which resulted in annual revenue decreasing from $19.3m to $18.2m. In the Maungakiekie-Tamaki area, which had one more gaming venue pop up, pokie spending rose from $18.3m to $20.1m. There are now 19 gaming venues in the area. In Orakei pokie machine revenue for the 2016 financial year decreased by $12,000 to $4.3m. The number of gaming venues remained at six.
In New Zealand, about 40 per cent of profits from gaming machines are put back into the community through various trusts. However, Lovich-Hewit said there was no legislation to ensure money went back into the community it came out of.
Sky City returned just 2.5 per cent of its net profit to the community, through the Sky City Auckland Community Trust. In 2016, that equalled more than $3.3m to community groups across the Auckland and Northland areas, a spokeswoman for Sky City said.
In New Zealand, 40 per cent of pokies profits are put back into the community through trusts.