Poor losing out on pokie cash

NZ Herald 11 August 2014
Money tipped into pokie machines in the poorest parts of Auckland doesn’t come back to those communities in gaming grants, new data shows.

In contrast, the wealthiest areas gamble far less but take a disproportionate amount of money out of other areas. This has been greeted as proof of a long-stated but never-proven claim about pokies – that the poor get poorer but the rich get richer.

The Auckland Council research is behind a challenge to government plans to ringfence 80 per cent of pokie grant distribution inside large regional areas. Instead, it wants a special system for distributing pokie grants inside Auckland which will allow the poorest areas to benefit from money gambled locally.

The research shows the biggest pokie players in Auckland are in the Otara-Papatoetoe area, putting $274 per person into gaming machines.

The area also rates among the highest in the region on the NZ Deprivation Index. Residents in Orakei, Auckland’s least deprived area, spend $49 each.