Conscience vote gives poker machine bill’s chances a boost

NZ Herald Nov 10, 2010
Parliament’s Speaker Dr Lockwood Smith has given a late boost to a Maori Party bill to phase out poker machine trusts by giving MPs a conscience vote on the issue. Dr Smith notified Waiariki MP Te Ururoa Flavell yesterday that he would allow a “personal vote” on the bill, in line with a convention letting MPs exercise their individual consciences on alcohol and gambling issues. But the ruling appears to have come too late to change decisions already made by the National, Act and United Future caucuses to oppose the bill. The three parties have 64 of Parliament’s 122 MPs, enough to stop the bill at its first reading, which could come today.
…Mr Flavell’s bill would require all poker gamblers to get “pre-commit cards” that would turn off the poker machines they were using when they reached spending limits programmed into the cards in advance – before they became mesmerised by the machines. It would also replace the trusts which now distribute poker machine proceeds with committees appointed by local councils. Councils would be able to ban poker machines in vulnerable areas, 80 per cent of proceeds from the machines would have to be distributed locally and payments to the racing industry would be banned.