Mar 30, 2011

Problem gambling in Kawerau

I do not expect people who trade in human misery to have any sense of civic duty, but this is morally contemptible. From the Whakatane Beacon:

The owners of the Kawerau Hotel want to open at 7.30am seven days a week so parents can play pokies after dropping their children off at school.

In an application for a full liquor licence in December, the McCowns said opening at 7.30am would not promote excessive drinking. Instead it would allow parents to use gaming machines after dropping their children at school at 8am.
“If we do not open early we will not get them servicing our machines, parents will just go straight home, have a coffee, do housework and will not come back out until it is time for them to pick kids up from school at 3pm.”

Clearly McCown has spent no time on planet Earth. In most cases gambling does not exist in isolation. Alcohol and cigarettes are often used to cope with the anxiety and depression that gambling, particularly problem gambling, triggers. A 2003 study found that 74% of regular pokie players drank while gambling.

Opening at 7.30am is a sure way to promote problem gambling. It is a form of predation. If the opportunity to gamble in the small hours of the morning exists, then problem gamblers will take that opportunity.

The above quote from McCown says it all really. This is a blatant attempt to increase revenue by exploiting human frailty. Sick. 

Mr McCown did not think longer opening hours would encourage problem gambling, nor would having more gaming machines in Kawerau.  
Mr McCown said the more money that went into the machines, the more would go back into the community through The Lion Foundation – though his own returns were capped.

Longer opening hours will increase accessibility. A restriction on opening hours is one of the few barriers to excessive gambling. In 2008 Kawerau residents spent more money on the pokies than any other town/city in New Zealand. I find this extremely sad given that the median income in Kawerau is just over $17,000 – the lowest in the country. The pokies wreck havoc in Kawerau. Crime, family violence, ill health, family breakdown, poverty and suicidal behaviour can be linked to problem gambling. Kawerau is lucky in one respect though. The Council has adopted a “sinking lid” policy i.e. a cap on the number of gaming machines in the town.

I hate the argument that the more money gaming machines make the more money that “would go back into the community”. This is sick logic. Pokie machines are like a cruel tax on the poorest in society. Where money is sucked from the poorest and then redistributed to pay for some middle class kids new soccer field. The amount of money actually repatriated is minimal as well.   

At peak hours most days he has up to 38 people waiting in the gaming room for a machine. More machines would “reduce the aggro” from people waiting.

More machines will mean more people get a go at pissing away their livelihoods, their childrens wellbeing and the wellbeing of the community.

He would continue to advocate to be allowed more machines, and said if the council continued to block him he would start using machines that supported trusts of no benefit to Kawerau.

Blackmail. Classy.

Problem Gambling Foundation chief executive Graeme Ramsey said the extended hours idea was “crazy”, though not without precedent in New Zealand. Mr Ramsey said 40 per cent of revenue from pokies came from problem gamblers. 
Extended opening hours would only increase accessibility to the machines. Kawerau is consistently among districts with the highest gambling spend per head of population, according to Department of Internal Affairs statistics.

That’s right.

Mr McCown did not think Kawerau had gambling issues and the district’s leaders should focus on “bigger problems” such as fighting and domestic violence.

Yup, McCown is obviously braindead. I wonder if he knows that a woman whose partner is a problem gamber is 10.5 times more likely to be a victim of violence from her partner than partners of a non-problem gambler. Problem gambling and domestic violence tend to go hand in hand. I guess he missed the memo. I wonder if McCown also knows that Kawerau actually does have a gambling problem. Consider this:

In just three months, between April and June this year the 72 pokies in the Kawerau district took in $111 for each of the district's 6921 people: men, women and children — so if you take babies and children and all those who don't gamble out of the equation, just imagine how much some people are pouring into the machines.

And this:

From April, when the monitoring system was installed, to December last year, Kawerau residents put $2,388,710 into the town's 72 gaming machines. That means Kawerau's 7000 people spends on average about $455 each a year on pokies.

And this:

Kawerau is still ranking in the national top four, for poker machine losses. The town's spending dropped by $25,000 in 2009. But it still notched up well over $600,000 dollars. Kawerau was once rated the area with the most gambling problems and losses.

Kawerau has a massive problem with the pokies. If I had my way I would ban them all. This probably won't happen though. So the next best thing is to obstruct McCown and his ilk - tell him he and his machines have no place in Kawerau. The sooner he fucks off the better.


  1. Ditto all your comments Morgan.

    I couldn’t believe what I was reading, surely this was a cruel jest, a bad satire, misreporting or was he just “having a go”?

    But sadly, on checking the accuracy of the report, he was for real.

    The mind boggles.

    What level have we sunk to? It just defies any sense of morality or decency.

    Is he the Larry Flint reincarnate?

    And sadly, as we are Kawerau and not a leafy high socio economic suburb, this will go unnoticed.

  2. Kia ora anon,

    It is repugnant behaviour worthy of contempt.

    As far as I am aware it has gone unnoticed. The only objection has come from the Kawerau Ministers Association. Not even the Police or the local Hauora objected. What the hell is going on? This is an issue that will touch the lives of hundreds if not thousands of people in Kawerau, yet there is no indication that anyone is aware of what is going on. Actually, there is no indication that anyone cares.

    McCowns application will know go before the liquor licensing authority. If the Ministers Association is the only group to formally object and submit then I think a license to open at 7.30 will be granted. I will submit and appear before the authority if necessary, but the opposition of a uni student in Wellington and a few church ministers is probably not enough.

    For anyone out there interested in submitting I will post a pro-forma submission document here – given sufficient interest of course.

  3. You have to wonder about the moral compass of people like McCown. I have watched a guy blow a weeks wages in a pokie machine, I only realised because of the domestic row that occurred a couple of hours later in the bar when his wife arrived, she was understandably very upset.

  4. Your blog is a joke.

    I checked this out because a friend thought I'd get a laugh out of it.

    On the one hand you can hardly conceal your contempt for the Maori Party, then on the other you speak about the ills of problem gambling - the very thing that Te Ururoa Flavell's private member's bill would stop. Better inform yourself buddy.

  5. Sophisticated response, anon. Guess I hit a nerve.

    I am aware of Te Ururoa’s bill. If you bothered to check you would find that I’ve actually blogged on it before. Lazy minds tend towards assumptions though.

    So Te Ururoa has a worthy bill on the order paper. One good bill. You seem to construe this is as some sort pardon for previous sins. I’ll tell you this, Te Ururoa needs to do a lot more if he is make up for the despicable way he behaved re the MCA act.

    Come back if you want to discuss this issue, substantively of course, rather than resorting to childish insults. Do not substitute composed, rational, fact based discussion for pity invective.



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