Pacific radio news

Expert calls for ban on electronic pokie machines

By Ruci Farrell -

Auckland academic Professor Max Abbott is calling for a ban on electronic gaming machines in pubs and clubs around the country.

Professor Abbott says despite the drop in the number of pokie machines, from 25,000 to 15,000, they are still heavily clustered in poorer communities.

He says the time has come to mandate our government and local communities to remove electronic gaming machines. 

"Māori and Pacific people are four to five times more likely to develop gambling problems and for every person who develops a problem, somewhere around 10 other people are affected negatively."

"These effects ripple out through families and communities and deepen health disparities and social disparities. I don't see anything really changing, if anything it's getting worse."

Problem gambling experts from around the world will be part of a think tank hoping to find ways of curbing the global problem.

Delegates will wrap up the International Gambling Conference in Auckland today and spend the next two days assessing the conference outcomes.

"At the end of the day, the cause of the cause is social inequality. People that specialise in gambling, it's a far bigger task than we can carry out alone," says Professor Abbott. 

"It's all sorts of issues. Housing is clearly a critical one, increasing wages of people on lower incomes, increasing the benefit payments, education. I think there's a growing realisation in this country that we need to get on with it.".

Watch full interview with Brian Sagala on Radio 531pi