Last week the Rawene Masonic Hotel, situated in Northland, issued a notice on their Facebook page that they would be removing all gaming machines from their venue. The decision came in the wake of an event in which a young girl had left her child in a baby capsule outside while she entered the establishment to play on the gaming machines.
After hearing similar stories, the owners of the establishment commented that "If these gaming machines can influence people to this kind of behaviour, then we want nothing to do with it and we hope that we have the support from our community." Hāpai Te Hauora would like to extend support to the young mother, and also to congratulate the actions of the owners who recognise the harm that gambling machines can do, especially when placed in vulnerable communities.
This comes after figures released by the Department of Internal Affairs show 32.8 million dollars came out of Northland in 2017, an increase of 1.1 million dollars from the previous year. The Problem Gambling Foundation noted that per person poorer communities have access to more than 6 times the number of pokie machines than those in wealthier communities.
Hāpai recognises the need for a massive overhaul to reduce the effects of health inequity especially where high exposure to gambling venues is concerned. In the meantime, Hāpai would like to encourage and offer support to other gaming venues who are considering the gambling related harm in their communities, and would like to take action by removing gaming machines, or investing further in host responsibility.
Ngā Manga Pūriri, who provide gambling support services in Northland have also offered to support venues that are considering removing their machines or looking to improve their ability to meet their host responsibilities. Host responsibility is an important role that enables venue staff to recognise signs of distress related to gambling addiction and prompts them to intervene and offer the necessary support.