While Collins is busy backing herself into a corner over the ACC affair and has found herself footing the bill for vexatious lawsuits, Joyce, her main rival for the post-Key leadership, is cutting a sleazy deal with SkyCity: more pokies and relaxed licencing in return for an international convention centre we don’t need. Now we learn SkyCity is fostering problem gambling.
3news revealed last night that, contrary to Key and Joyce’s claims, SkyCity does not stop problem gambling:
One woman, a problem gambler, told 3 News she put thousands of dollars a week into the pokies at the Auckland casino.
The only way she could stop was by barring herself – effectively taking out a trespass order so she couldn’t go inside.
“After one or two weeks I’m back again… but Sky City never took me out,” the woman – who would only be identified as Nancy – told 3 News.
She’s not alone.
3 News has learned there were 265 trespass breaches last year. Of those:
201 were barred by the casino but got back in
64 had barred themselves
The Problem Gambling Foundation says Sky City’s host responsibility is poor and fuels problem gambling.
“If they are winning money, they are told to go home and get some sleep. But if they are losing money, nothing is said,” Problem Gambling Foundation spokesperson Andree Freude.
The casino also had:
54 incidents of deserted children last year
25 cases of fraud
14 assaults – some serious
“Sky City are making a lot of money out of problem gamblers,” Mr Freude.
So, let me get this straight. National’s big vision for Auckland, the policy into which mega-minister Joyce is putting all his effort, is to get the city 500 more pokie machines and an international convention centre that MED reckons will be lucky to break-even on a cash-flow basis,let alone cover its cost of capital.
Quite why Joyce is so obsessed with SkyCity remains unclear, but if the tangled web of cronyism and undue influence being exposed by the ACC affair is anything to go by, it won’t be out of his concern for the greater good.
I knew it would be stunning, but who would have thought the future would be this bright?