Wednesday, April 18, 2012

SkyCity deal--is it the best? (update at bottom)

I heard Pam Corkery on ZB-talkback today and she was commenting on the SkyCity deal to build the new National Convention Centre. It made me wish that she would consider getting back into Parliament. We need her balance. She certianly summed up how I feel. Sure we may get a free centre, but at what cost--- an ongoing drain on our national finances as we have to 'fix the social issues' caused by dream seeking gamblers. Then  we hear that the Casino may have to sacrifice space to fit in another 500 pokies. The whole thing stinks. C'mon Pam---- get back into that place you left--- not that I blame you-- but you have a 'way about you' that we need! Anyone reading this who knows her--- pass the messgae on.

Our illustrious Prime Minister Key has aided a deal to have SkyCity Casino pay for a NZ$300 million National Convention Centre. There is no doubt that such a centre will bring money into the Auckland economy and have flow on effects for the rest of the country. Yes, it will also bring more jobs, both for the construction period and the overall running of the centre once completed. Wow---- fantastic! you may say.
Sorry--- I am going to be a boring old fart and try to bring a wider understanding of the implications for such a ‘deal.’ Firstly, as part of this magnificent contribution to Auckland and New Zealand, all SkyCity wants is the increase in the number of machines it is allowed to have under law. Obviously they have done their sums and decided that the deal on offer works well for them. Is that such a bad thing?
OK--- is there any way of quantifying the damage both in social costs and actual costs to the community as a whole. We all know that lots of people are addicted one way or another--- I guess mine is food. For others it may be smoking, sex, drugs, alcohol and other compulsions, bordering on the psychotic. Gambling is a vice that besets many in our society.
There are many forms of gambling, from games or cards at home, horse racing, dogs, and anthing else that can move. There is Loto (OK---some of you may not agree with me), and there are the thousands of POKEY machines in hundreds of establishments, especially in lower economic areas of our towns and cities in NZ.
Then there are the big establishments. We have several casinos in NZ, the largest by far in Auckland. Without a doubt, these establishments cause harm. Yes they provide entertainment for most of their customers in the form of the ‘game,’ and also offer other relaxing facilities. They also lay claim to caring about their ‘difficult’ customers and offer various ‘baring’ systems to stop problem gamblers. This does not take into account the thousands of customers at that next level down, who spend their rent or food money or their kids ‘clothing and education money.’
Little is said by the institutions about the damage done to families and the resulting violence, when the money isn’t there for essentials, like the ‘old man’s booze.’ ‘OH’ they say----‘but we gave the church next door money, so that they could fix their roof.’ Wonderful---- So now they are OK with God!
I think we all know, deep down that casinos do a great deal of damage. Yes, they are not alone and if we single them out, it may appear a little unfair. They pay their ‘blood money’ and hope that the criticism is blunted and then go on their merry way, pocketing their profits.
We are all left with the ‘debt to society,’ paying for the generations to come and those already afflicted. Ask those people what they would like, and sadly, most of them would continue to chase the rainbow. Such is the freedom to choose, not unlike the God-given gift of life. We are given that to stuff-up or live to the fullest.

Take a look at the NZ Herald this morning to see the more extreme side of Pokies--- not just at the SkyCity Casino. Problem gambling is wrecking lives and when it is combined with 'P' (Methamphetamine) then you have a terribel combination. How many of our families are suffering whne one or both parents are sucked into gambling? Do we really need Libertarian policies when so many are being hurt?

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