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Wednesday, January 25

Central govt.'s cosy deal with SkyCity bad for Auckland

The National Government's cosy negotiations with SkyCity — which will increase the number of pokie machines at its Auckland casino in exchange for a convention centre — is another example of central government interference with Auckland affairs, the Green Party said today.

"The Government is trading off the well-being of Aucklanders for a new convention centre," said gambling and Auckland spokesperson Denise Roche.
"Aucklanders should be the ones deciding whether they want more pokies, not Steven Joyce.

"Every time Auckland communities have been asked about pokie machines, they have said 'no thanks'. Most legacy councils had sinking lid policies or policies to cap the number of pokie machines in their communities."

The Green Party have joined growing opposition to the Government's proposed deal with SkyCity to expand their gambling operations in Auckland.

"Instead of making secret deals to increase gambling in Auckland, the Government can instead be implementing practical measures to reduce gambling harm," said Ms Roche.

"Pokies can be made safer with pre-commit cards and player tracking, but we need a change in the central government legislation to do that.

"When gambling harm is reduced, so is crime and the significant cost of crime. The Government's not thinking of the broader economic and social implications for society."

Ms Roche also sees the National Government's back alley dealing with SkyCity as another example of central government interference in matters of Auckland governance.

"The National Government is becoming increasingly at odds with Auckland's aspirations to govern itself," Ms Roche said.