Ban pok­ies from coun­cil sites

Kapi-Mana News - - FROM THE REGION - NI­CHOLAS BOYACK

A pro­posed ban on pok­ies in Hutt City Coun­cil build­ings has been crit­i­cised by a se­nior coun­cil of­fi­cer, who be­lieves it would do lit­tle to re­duce prob­lem gam­bling.

A ban would also have a huge im­pact on a $6.2 mil­lion coun­cilowned bowl­ing hub un­der con­struc­tion in Nae­nae. Gam­ing trusts have con­trib­uted more than $1m to­wards the project and bowl­ing is re­ly­ing on pok­ies for 25 per cent of its in­come.

Hutt City coun­cil­lor Camp­bell Barry’s mo­tion to ban pok­ies from coun­cil fa­cil­i­ties comes up for dis­cus­sion at the coun­cil’s next meet­ing on August 2.

In March, coun­cil­lors dis­cussing the bowl­ing fa­cil­ity were told the bowl­ing club needed pok­ies to gen­er­ate rev­enue.

Barry be­lieved there was a gen­eral view in the com­mu­nity that pok­ies and the as­so­ci­ated gam­bling caused sig­nif­i­cant harm.

He be­lieved it was wrong to have pok­ies in a coun­cil-owned and con­trolled build­ing.

Lo­cal Adam Weir sup­ports Barry’s call for a ban and be­lieved it had wide­spread sup­port.

‘‘Eth­i­cally a coun­cil that pro­motes health and well­be­ing in the com­mu­nity should not al­low pok­ies. Eth­i­cally, I think it is all a bit shady.’’

Prob­lem Gam­bling Foun­da­tion com­mu­ni­ca­tions di­rec­tor An­dree Froude also sup­ported the pro­posed ban.

‘‘We see peo­ple com­ing through our doors ev­ery sin­gle day who have been dam­aged by these ma­chines.’’

She was con­cerned the coun­cil took pokie money to fund the bowl­ing hub, which was in turn re­ly­ing on pok­ies for fund­ing.

How­ever, coun­cil gen­eral man­ager Matt Reid dis­puted the rea­son­ing be­hind Barry’s call for a ban.

‘‘My re­sponse to him would be, where is the ev­i­dence that sports clubs at­tract prob­lem gam­blers?’’

If Barry was wor­ried about harm to so­ci­ety, Reid said he should look at the im­pact al­co­hol had on the com­mu­nity.

Barry con­ceded that he might have a hard job con­vinc­ing his fel­low coun­cil­lors.

2015 In­ter­nal Af­fairs fig­ures list 488 gam­ing ma­chines in Lower Hutt and 679 in Welling­ton. From Jan­uary to March 2016, Lower Hutt res­i­dents spent $6.09m play­ing pok­ies.

James Weir and Vince Tami­here are staunchly op­posed to a new Lower Hutt bowl­ing fa­cil­ity hav­ing any link to gam­bling.

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