This week the Department of Internal Affairs released the results of the "mystery shopper" audit of pokie venues. Casinos and smaller clubs and societies known as 'Class 4' venues were visited by actors trained to mimic problem gambling behaviour. The interactions with staff were evaluated to test venue compliance against regulatory requirements.
Casinos fared better than smaller venues, and it is the smaller venues which caused the biggest concern to gambling harm reduction advocates Hāpai Te Hauora. "Unfortunately it is these smaller venues, with their extremely poor compliance, that are located in our communities. There is a relationship between the venues with the worst compliance rating and their location in the most deprived communities" said Anthony Hawke, General Manager Māori Public Health.
"It's obvious from this report that continuous supervision in casinos is a major factor differentiating their responsiveness to problem gambling compared to the smaller venues. Some venues do not have continuous supervision and this reinforces problem gambling behaviour."
Hāpai Te Hauora supports the Department of Internal Affairs' report and the actions they have taken to highlight the gaps in compliance. "We also support the cancellation of individual venue licences in non-compliant venues as a last resort to ensure standards are upheld across the sector" says Hawke.