PGF is Concerned of South Auckland Pokie Machines

Pokie machines are technically fueling poverty in some areas since gaming machines can be found everywhere. 

The Department of Internal Affairs (DIA) shows that South Auckland pokie machine operators have made profits worth $21 million in the first quarter of 2021. Local board areas of South Auckland which includes Manurewa, Ōtara-Papatoetoe, Māngere-Ōtāhuhu, Papakura, and Franklin have broken down the figures for convenience. 

The last three months of 2020 had shown a profit of more than $26 million across pokie machine venues in South Auckland. The number of NZ pokie sites on CasinoDeps platform has increased since then. These figures indicated a profit of $252 million across nationwide gaming machines between October to December in 2020. These are the highest figures since 2007 when the DIA started maintaining records for the same. 

Problem Gambling In South Auckland 

October 2020 also produced a report to the council’s regulatory which indicated a major scale of problem gambling in South Auckland. It stated that more than half of the population in Auckland are undergoing treatment for obsessive gambling tendencies among which 50% were gaming machine users. 

The chairman of the Gaming Machine Association of New Zealand, Peter Dengate Thrush mentioned that the amount spent on gaming machines in the months of October-December was a post-Covid-19 high. The latest figure for 2021 is comparatively normal. The number of venues and machines remains the same. His outlook was contradictory to Froude’s. 

Problems Regarding Pokie Machines In South Auckland 

The spokesperson of the Problem Gambling Foundation (PGF), Andree Froude stated that the vast amounts being spent on South Auckland gaming machines is a serious concern since huge amounts are being lost on pokie machines. In October 2020, the Auckland Council had voted for retaining its sinking lid policy for pokie machines across the region. 

The policy states that no new consents can be issued for new venues. It also prevents the transfer of machines from one venue to another even if it shuts down in order to reduce the overall count of machines. But, several venues are still located in areas like South Auckland which are high deprivation areas. Pokie machines are technically fueling poverty in these areas since gaming machines can be found everywhere. 

Froude mentioned that the funding of sports groups and communities must be looked into since they rely on funds generated by pokie machine trusts which builds up a dependency cycle. Most of this money is generated from the poor communities which is a major drawback and needs to be decreased. 

Problem Gambling Foundation

A district council meeting in 2021 in Fairlie suggested the adoption of changes to its class 4 gambling (pokie machines in pubs, clubs)  and TAB Venue Policy which would revoke the existing policy. The council mainly focused on 3 main topics: imposing a sinking load, lowering the overall number, imposing no change, or opting for another option. 

Of these 4 submissions, two wanted a cap of 45 licenses along with a relocation policy whereas the other two from the PGF and Community Public Health were in favor of a strong sinking lid. A merger of options was proposed which led to a modified sinking lid proposal being adopted. It allows the transfer of machine licenses if businesses change hands. It led to the allowance of license transfers in case a venue is affected due to a natural hazard. 

The Problem Gambling Foundation stated that there was $1,022,865 spent in the Mackenzie District in 2020-21 on class 4 pokies. Froude also felt that the sinking lids were the best policy that was currently available to councils in terms of harm minimization. He mentioned that certain councils believed in getting pokies out of their communities in order to reduce harm. 

However, councils needed to make stronger decisions than the sinking lids. That would also require editing the Gambling Act. Froude strongly believes that the harm that pokies are causing outweighs any sort of benefits from funding committees. 


Froude strongly believes that class 4 has been the most harmful form of gambling due to its continuity. If a person bets money and receives the results then and there, the money can be reinvested in a loop. This increases gambling tendencies in a punter since it is addictive and thus classified as the most harmful. 

The pokies trusts owning machines technically need to return 40% of their earnings to the community but the issue arises when the money returned goes to some other community instead of leaving behind a community weaker and poorer. Clubs operate differently and do not need to put 40% back to the community. 

The solution to this overall problem in South Auckland can only be diminished if councils invest time into looking at where the money is coming from rather than looking into where it is going since the system is unethical and inequitable in nature.