SkyCity deal will worsen problem gambling… Really?

The Greens say it will fund crime and facilitate money laundering. The Labour Party say it will increase problem gambling. But none of the opposition to the SkyCity deal for an NZ Convention Centre is making sense.

Before we go any further, I need to declare my bias. Yes, I am a relatively frequent patron of SkyCity (mostly in Hamilton, but sometimes in Auckland too). I also am a huge fan of the NZ Breakers, who have SkyCity as their naming rights sponsor. Neither of these things have changed my opinion of the SkyCity deal, but I thought I’d mention these so I can’t be accused of an undeclared bias.

Let’s start with the easy one – SkyCity funding crime and facilitating money laundering. Let’s assume that the Green Party means crime is funded by the money laundering. It might be incorrect, but that’s the only thing that vaguely (and I mean very vaguely) makes sense. Now, what the Green Party is saying is because you can put cash into the machine and end up with tickets, then use the tickets to get cash (referring to the ticket-in ticket-out machines they’re using). Because of that, it can be used to launder money. And yes, that is true. But no more true than any other mostly cash based business. SkyCity comply with the legislation regarding money laundering.

Now, let’s more to the argument that, at least on first look, makes sense. Problem gambling. Ironically, it’s a problem. And surely more gambling facilities will create more problem gambling. While that’s correct, that’s not what this deal does. We don’t end up with another casino. It’s going to be in the same location. It’s not going to make more people go to the casino. So what will it do? Potentially, it will reduce problem gambling. Yes, you heard read me right. How? If part of the legislation allowing new machines is that a certain percentage must be low stakes machines (and I’m talking one or two cent machines). Right now, the lower stake machines are usually all being used. People who want to put in a fiver and get 500 credits end up moving to 25 cent machines. Their $5 now only get them 20 credits. That’s often not enough to have one spin betting on all the lines. So they put a $20 note in. That’s part of the problem gambling problem. If there’s more low stakes machines, less people will be in that position.

I know this doesn’t remove problem gambling. It also doesn’t help all people. But some people it certainly does. And if we can help people, that’s got to be good.

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About Daniel Farrell

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Posted on April 18, 2012, in New Zealand Politics and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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