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More pokies in SkyCity Key's idea

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Latest Political News | Wednesday April 18 2012 5:20

More pokies in SkyCity Key's idea


The Auckland Convention Centre for pokie machines deal is a deal cut by the Prime Minister himself.

John Key's confirmed from Indonesia that he made the offer to SkyCity to install more pokie machines, if it built a new convention centre in the city.

Labour's David Shearer is appalled.

The fact that John Key approached SkyCity to say, "look, if you do this for us we'll allow you to have more pokie machines, and don't worry I'll pass a law through parliament allowing you to have more pokie machines." That frankly is shonky, and it smells.

Mr Shearer says Mr Key's effectively selling the law which controls pokies.

"What he's done with this deal is increase the amount of pokie machines and gambling and therefore the social harm to Auckland. I just think that's a price that we're not prepared to pay."

Anti gambling advocates want to know why John Key signed off the deal with SkyCity.

Auckland University School of Population Health Associate Professor Peter Adams says it appears the man with the top job isn't considering the harm that comes from gambling.

He says they've been working for 20 years in the area.

"Looking into ways that we might reduce the harm associated gambling, and he's coming in from leftfield doing deals without any reference to the sorts of initiatives we've set up in the last twenty years."

The former chairman of Tourism Auckland says John Key's idea for SkyCity to build a convention centre would be the best thing for Auckland and the rest of the country.

Barry Neville-White says he visited around 20 convention centres around the world and found they didn't make an operating profit.

He says the only way they can be funded is by higher rates, a levy or a bed tax.

"Auckland can't afford to put them up for itself, and it's unfair for the rest of the country to fund one in Auckland with the general taxpayers money."

Barry Neville-White says SkyCity was operating under capacity 10 years ago so doubts additional gaming machines would make a difference.



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