Proposed SkyCity deal potentially devastating for Pasifika people

The National Party’s two Pasifika MPs are being urged to ‘do the right thing’ and vote against legislation for the SkyCity convention centre deal.

Under a deal with the Government, the casino operator will build a $400 million centre in Auckland in exchange for a 27-year extension to its licence and the right to have an extra 230 pokies and up to 52 more gaming tables.

The Government estimates the centre will create jobs and boost both Auckland and the country’s economy including tourism revenue by about $90 million a year.

But the chair of Auckland’s Pacific advisory panel, Uesifili Unasa, says the MPs should break ranks because the deal will harm their communities.

“Problem gambling is a big issue in Pacific communities. It’s a no-brainer in terms of the right thing to do – and that is to vote against the SkyCity bill.”

The head of the Tongan council also urged the MPs to rethink their vote. Melino Maka said the casino is already a magnet for problem gamblers from Pacific communities and it would be devastating if the deal goes ahead.

The Presbyterian Church has also expressed its concern. Moderator of the Presbyterian Church of Aotearoa New Zealand, the Rt Rev Ray Coster, says that the Church does not accept the argument that the financial contributions pokie machines make to community activities justify their existence.

“This legislation will simply mean that more families and more communities will suffer the corrosive effects of problem gambling… The social and financial cost to problem gamblers, their loved ones and the wider community, in our view, outweighs the economic benefit derived from the planned construction of the new convention centre.”


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