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Lower losses on pokies but numbers still high

Gamblers cough up $1.4m despite lockdown.

Pokie losses here fell by half during the June quarter but even with pokies locked down for almost one month of that time, gamblers still managed to lose $1.4m.

The Department of Internal Affairs' gaming machine proceeds data show $1.4m was lost over the three months ending in June. That was down from $2.4m in the first three months of the year and down from $2.8m in the June quarter last year.

Losses over April, May and June came at a time when all public venues were closed under Level 4 Lockdown until April 27 and, during Level 3 restrictions, when public bars were open only to seated customers, until May 13 when the alert level was reduced to Level 2.

Gaming machine proceeds count the amount collected by operators. They do not include the total amount “gambled”.

Ka Pai Kaiti chairperson Lizz Crawford pointed out the figures did not include online gambling numbers on overseas websites.

“We did see whanau who were concerned about the future during this time. They were unable to play the pokies or gamble and they had the added distress of potential unemployment.

“Some whanau reverted to online gambling.

“Vouchers or credit cards can be used which may have an impact of increased debt or eroded savings.

“More needs to be done around the safety of those who face higher risk of vulnerability such as our communities with mental distress and how we can achieve true prevention and minimisation of this insidious harm.”

The news also comes as Tairawhiti approaches nearly two years without a dedicated problem gambling service.

The region has not had a government-funded problem gambling service since September 2018 when former provider Te Ara Tika Trust relinquished its “unsustainable” contract with the Ministry of Health.

NO SERVICE: Whanau have contacted Ka Pai Kaiti chair Lizz Crawford with concerns about gambling. File picture