Nats gambling addiction | The Jackal

4 Apr 2012

Nats gambling addiction

Yesterday, reported:

Prime Minister John Key says hundreds of extra pokies at Sky City Casino will not increase gambling addiction but the Problem Gambling Foundation says every 10 new machines creates eight people with a problem.

The Government is negotiating a deal with the Auckland-based casino to build a $350 million international convention centre in return for being allowed up to 500 new pokie machines.

Key is facing increased pressure over the deal after reports gaming machines in pubs and clubs return 37 per cent of their profits to the community but Sky City casino returns just 2.5 per cent.

The Ministry of Economic Development’s feasibility study and supplementary research (PDF), shows that the convention centre will provide around $397 million in economic benefit to New Zealand over 20 years, offset by $277 million in economic costs = $120 million.

Factor in the Problem Gambling Foundation calculation of $5.9 million a year cost to society from 500 more pokie machines and you have an economical benefit to society of just $2 million over twenty years.

But what is really stupid is that the Nats are gambling that the economy will improve to achieve this minuscule benefit, when there is no evidence that it will do so. The MED states:

The convention industry is sensitive to the cyclical nature of national and global economies. Attendance numbers fall and conference budgets decrease during recessions, such as in the United States in the early 1990s and Asia at the end of the 1990s. Conversely, attendance and budgets recover during upturns. The industry is resilient, as events go ahead during recessions, albeit with reduced budgets. However, large international meetings are often organised two to four years in advance so there is a lag in measuring the true impact of downturns. This was confirmed by one interviewee, who observed that the greater impact is on the number of attendees at events (down 30% to 40%) rather than on event cancellation.

So that means the event centre itself may not be viable in the current economical climate, and unless things improve, the costs will outweigh the benefits.

The National government should concentrate on fixing the economy instead of making dirty deals with the gambling industry. But what is even worse is their defunct reasoning and secretive agenda:

Key said he did not believe the additional machines would attract more locals to Sky City, saying the casino was targeting international clients.

"The question is would a small number of pokie machines in addition at Sky City materially make a difference to problem gambling, the answer is I don't believe it will."

However, Problem Gambling Foundation chief executive Graeme Ramsey said research showed for every gaming machine, there was 0.8 of a problem gambler.

"So it's almost one for one. There's a very clear correlation between availability of machines and the number of machines, and the number of problems."

Forty per cent of the money lost in machines came from people with gambling problems.

Today, Radio NZ reported:

The Government is refusing to disclose official advice about a proposal to increase the number of gaming machines at Sky City casino in Auckland as part of a deal to build a new convention centre.

There is one obvious reason why National have failed to disclose the official advice, because it's not in favour of changing gambling laws in return for a convention centre that has no proven overall benefit to society.

National is rewriting laws that are designed to protect the public from problem gambling for no proven economical benefit. What a bunch of bloody morons!