‘Sting’ Stokes Pokie Battle in New Zealand

Following an undercover news report on compulsive gambling, New Zealand’s Green Party has more ammo to fight additional pokie machines at SkyCity Entertainment. Gambling foes are preparing a suit against the whole pokie industry.

New gaming, new convention center

The anti-gaming Green Party of New Zealand is fighting a deal that would give the SkyCity Casino extra pokie machines for its new Auckland resort. According to the Asia Gaming Brief, the Greens claim SkyCity has not met its responsibility to ensure responsible gambling by its patrons.

As proof, the critics point to “a sting” by a local news network that sent a woman into the casino to gamble. The woman reportedly gambled for more than 10 hours and lost hundreds of dollars without any intervention from the casino’s staff.

“SkyCity’s failure to stop a woman from gambling for 10 hours straight shows it is failing to operate its existing machines responsibly,” said Green Party spokeswoman Denise Roche in a statement. “The casino shouldn’t be allowed hundreds more machines till it can prove it is operating responsibly with the ones it already has.”

SkyCity has been granted 230 additional slot machines and 52 gaming tables as part of a deal with the government. In return, it agreed to build an international convention center in Auckland.

Meanwhile, lawyers are going after operators and designers of video poker machines claiming they are addictive. Jacob Varghese of the Maurice Blackburn law firm told CalvinAyre.com there is “a genuine argument that some of the behavior by the pokie designers is misleading and deceptive in that it makes people think things are happening that are not actually happening.

“One of those things is losses described as wins, in which the machine will act as if you’ve won but really you’ve net-lost. You might have won 30 cents on the dollar you played. You’ve still lost 70 cents,” Varghese said, “but you still get all the stimulus and reaction from the machine as if you’ve won.”

Varghese is working with the Alliance for Gambling Reform to bring a case against the industry. The website reports that Australians lose more than $12 billion on the pokies each year. The government gets more than $1 billion a year in taxes from the machines.