Shut down pokies, let people prepare
Nevada, Las Vegas has frozen out gambling. Gaming venues in Tairawhiti need to shut their doors to protect against Covid-19 and give people who are gambling at their premises a fair chance to prepare and to look after their families and their wellbeing; to keep every last cent they've got for the current future.
We have 10 venues in Tairawhiti being Gisborne Tatapouri Sports Fishing Club, Ruatoria Hotel, Rivers, Returned Services Association (RSA), Sugar, Mo's Sports Bar & Grill, Bar 59, Cosmopolitian Club, Bollywood, Shipwreck. Most offer everything from alcohol, pokies and food to other forms of gambling like poker, bingo and self-serve TAB. It's just too much.
It is sad to see that Anzac Day will be postponed but I applaud the RSA for looking after their people. I am asking the local RSA and other venues to take an extra step and turn off their pokie machines. Could we please just press pause on all forms of gambling in Tairawhiti until we are safe.
The spend on pokies has increased in this region since we do not have a face-to-face help service. It is now over $11 million per annum.
I understand that Hauora Tairawhiti is working hard to set up a gambling help service here. In the meantime we need to work together to support whanau in our region. Surely there is a public health issue that our Medical Officer of Health could invoke as well as something under the Local Government Act?
I am asking for a pokie-free and gamble-free Tairawhiti before government intervention, please. I'm sure the Department of Internal Affairs can grant some sort of concession for machines being turned off if venues make contact. There are so many stakeholders that may be able to do so much more.
My final message is to keep safe and keep well. If you think you have symptoms please call Healthline on 0800 358 5453 and press number 3. If you need help with gambling, call the free national gambling helpline on 0800 654 655 (they are open 24/7) or text 8006; it is anonymous and free.