SkyCity Pokie Deal

We need your voice on the issue of gambling harm in our communities – and in this particular instance, our largest city centre. If you are concerned about the effect of pokies in our communities and the targeting of, and impact on, vulnerable families, please read on – and please consider making a Submission. We’ve tried to make it as easy as possible to do 🙂


sky cityPurpose
The purpose of the Bill is to give effect to an agreement between SkyCity and the Government to build an international convention centre in exchange for legislative changes allowing an extra 230 slot machines and 40 gaming tables, a 27-year extension to SkyCity’s Auckland casino licence, and other regulatory concessions.

Family First is opposing any law change which would allow the mass influx of more ‘mechanical pickpocket’ machines to SkyCity. This law change is completely contrary to the Gambling Act which seeks to reduce gambling harm. Casinos thrive on the false promise of getting rich quickly, but the reality is that those who can least afford to gamble are gambling themselves deeper into debt.

Tourists come to see the country and the culture – not the casinos. If tourists were really focused on gambling, they would be going to Las Vegas – not the SkyCity casino venue in Auckland.

gamblingSignificant risk factors for problem gambling include being between 25-34, Maori or Pacific ethnicity, lower educational attainment, being employed and living alone. Problem gambling is strongly associated with risky drinking behaviour and smoking. Other health problems for gamblers include stress-related health problems, major mental problems, and medical conditions.

Of most concern is the impact on families including domestic violence, unsupervised children in casino carparks, children going without food clothes and other necessities, and US research suggesting a link between gambling and physical and emotional abuse

READ Family First NZ’s Submission
READ about the Bill
READ more helpful info from the Problem Gambling Foundation

READ one family’s story


email* Make an online submission (at bottom of page) CLICK HERE
* Send 2 copies of submission by freepost to:
Committee Secretariat,
Commerce, Parliament Buildings Wellington,  Phone 04 817 9531


(include any or all – depending on which you agree with )
* you OPPOSE the bill
* the centre will be primarily funded by gamblerspokie child
* the bill is contrary to the Gambling Act 2003 which prohibits increasing opportunities for gambling in existing casinos and came into effect to control the growth of gambling, prevent and minimise resulting social harm, and facilitate community feedback
* It is wrong to excuse SkyCity from the Gambling Act for 35 years
* The targeting of gambling in lower socio-economic areas proves that they are being targeted at vulnerable people.
* problem gambling is strongly associated with risky drinking behaviour, smoking, poverty, relationship break-up, depression and other mental health problems, domestic violence and child abuse, crime, neglected children
* The Australian Productivity commission found that 5 to 10 other people can be directly affected to varying degrees by the behaviour of a problem gambler.


* there were four other interested parties in building the convention centre. The Deputy Auditor-General was concerned with how unfairly they were treated in the tendering process.
* The Convention Centre (if needed) could be built without a mass increase in pokie machines
* the predicted 800 jobs in the centre is not consistent with convention centres of similar size in Australia e.g. The Sydney Convention Centre which is the same size employs only 200 people
* is there a proven need for this convention centre?
* conferences in other venues in Auckland will be lost to SkyCity. Some of these venues are publicly owned e.g. Aotea Centre
* the concession which allows cashless facilities is problematic.pokie machine
* the concession which allows $100 bank note limits on 17% of the gambling machines is problematic.
* Gaming machine gambling is a continuous form of gambling that is particularly likely to be associated with harm and the risk of harm. New Zealand studies have found that gaming machines are associated with harm more often than any other form of gambling.
* based on the increased number of pokie machines and tables being allowed, up to 5,000 people may be at least partly affected by casino machines and an additional 3,600 at least partly affected by casino tables
only a fraction of those affected by problem gambling seek help
* The evidence from Australia suggests that the uptake of voluntary pre-commitment is typically low and that many players do not adhere to the limits they set.


Govt should promote country and culture – not casinos
Media Release 13 May 2013: Family First NZ says that the government should be encouraging tourists to come to New Zealand to see the country and our culture – not casinos. “It is disappointing that the government is willing to form partnerships with the gambling industry. If tourists were really focused on gambling, they would be going to Las Vegas – not the Sky City casino venue in Auckland,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ. “But not only will it target tourists, it will also impact on kiwi families.” “Casinos thrive on the false promise of getting rich quickly, but the reality is that those who can least afford to gamble are gambling themselves deeper into debt. The government should be protecting families – not fleecing them.” “It is ironic that the government is targeting loan sharks at the same time as increasing the number of pokie machines
SkyCity deal ‘selling’ exemption from law
NZ Herald 5 June 2013: Leading constitutional lawyer Stephen Franks has panned the Government’s convention centre deal with SkyCity, saying it dodges important safeguards. The Government was in effect selling dispensations from the Gambling Act to SkyCity which were not available to others in return for the convention centre. “The ability to ‘purchase’ a dispensation from regulation sits uncomfortably with the rule of law,” Mr Franks said.
Auckland Council votes not to support convention deal
NZ Herald Jun 28, 2013: The Auckland Council has voted not to support the $400 million national convention centre for pokies deal on the eve of the Government and SkyCity signing off the deal. In a conscience vote, the council voted 10-7 yesterday not to support “the Government’s proposal for SkyCity to develop a convention centre in return for changes in our gambling legislation to increase gambling at the SkyCity casino”. Mayor Len Brown – a strong supporter of the deal and who has pushed for harm minimisation measures – voted against the motion by City Vision councillor Cathy Casey, who urged the mayor to stop being a cheerleader for SkyCity.
Thousands more face gambling harm
3 News 9 July 2013: Thousands more people could experience gambling harm as a  result of concessions for SkyCity in exchange for a new convention centre,  documents show.
Poor communities feed pokies most
NZ Herald 30 April 2012: Some of the country’s poorest communities are feeding the most money into pokies, new data has revealed.
Auckland Council should reject Sky pokie deal
Media Release 26 April 2012: Family First NZ is supporting the call for Auckland Council to make a stand against the SkyCity convention centre-for-pokie machines deal. “The Local Government Act empowers Councils to provide for the social well-being of our communities. Family First is calling on the Auckland Council to oppose any law change which would allow the mass influx of more ‘mechanical pickpocket’ machines to Sky City. Thanks for speaking up for vulnerable families
Len Brown should honour pre-election pledge on pokie machines
Media Release 23 April 2012:  Family First NZ is calling on Auckland mayor Len Brown to honour his pre-election pledge to stop additional pokie machines in the Auckland area.
Pokie machines versus a convention centre
Auckland Scoop 22 April 2012: It’s not just problem gamblers who would suffer from the Prime Minister’s Sky City/convention centre deal…. Family First’s opposition is predictable. But you can’t deny Bob McCroskie’s argument: “Tourists come to see the country and the culture – not the casinos. If tourists were really focused on gambling, they would be going to Las Vegas – not the Sky City casino venue in Auckland.”
Sex industry likely to get boost from centre
NZ Herald 14 April 2012: The sex industry is looking forward to a big leg up from SkyCity’s proposed National Convention Centre and the thousands of free-spending overseas conventioneers it would draw to Auckland.
SkyCity smoking area tested in High Court
NZ Herald 7 Aug 2013: Approval for a VIP smoking area at Auckland’s SkyCity casino has prompted a High Court challenge over testing methods.

The Green Party also have a summary, and helpful tips or making a Submission


trevor mallard“I am adamantly opposed to this legislation. My view is that gambling using any form of pokies was originally a mistake. I think that in allowing it, Peter Tapsell—probably without any right of legislation, without any right and proper regulation, back when he was Minister of Internal Affairs in the early 1980s—was wrong. I am still convinced that it is wrong. I voted the wrong way on the casino legislation when it was set up originally, and that is something that I am now ashamed of. It is my view that that casino should not have been set up, and my view that the harm that is caused to tens of thousands of families is something that this Parliament, and people of my generation in this Parliament, have to take responsibility for. What I will not do is support in any way legislation that will make it worse.”
Hon TREVOR MALLARD – Labour MP 1st Reading

Thank you for speaking up for families

bob signature



Bob McCoskrie

National Director