Wowsers deal crooked hand on pokie debate

Rodney Hide


The news reports unfortunates who can’t resist the pull of the pokies and throw everything they have into them one coin at a time.

There are also those who smoke, drink too much, eat fast food, vote New Zealand First, and invest in finance companies when the Global Financial Crisis is about to hit.

We even had a report of a poor woman who died drinking too much Coke.

What to do?

In the case of pokie machines the people’s representatives after much analysis and anguish have concluded the answer: 18,001.

That’s the number of pokies now operating in the country. It was a lot higher. But that number was wrong and the number of pokie machines has been ratcheted down for the past 10 years.

The theory behind the 18,001 is unclear. Presumably the imposed shortage creates a queue for pokies. The wait becomes too much for some and they head home to feed and look after their children and be good citizens. They are thereby saved.

There has been much gnashing of teeth and frothing at the mouth following the proposal to increase pokies by 500. That increase would take the number of machines back to where it was 15 months ago.

It would take an increase more than 14 times larger to get back to the pokie numbers of 10 years ago.

The wailing is also occasioned by the increase being part of a deal for Sky City to build a convention centre at its expense rather than have government dip into ratepayers’ and taxpayers’ pockets.

I like the deal very much.

Punters choose to spend their money at the pokie machines. There’s no law forcing them to do so. Ratepayers and taxpayers have no such choice. That’s a big difference. For that alone the deal is a good one.

Sky City also knows how to run conferences and the like. I have been to many at Sky City and they have all been top notch. I can’t always say the same about government and council-run events.

It makes sense, too, that the convention centre will mean more people to Sky City and hence the need to expand facilities, including pokies.

The debate has been heated by the claim that “New Zealand law is up for sale.” The government as part of the deal is to change the law to allow Sky City the extra pokies.

I was on Radio Live with host Willie Jackson. He labelled the deal “corrupt.” Half the callers agreed with him.

The New Zealand Herald editorialised that the two issues of the convention centre and the number of pokies should be kept separate. The Herald reasoned they are two separate decisions and should not be intertwined.

I can see the Herald’s point. But government negotiations where Parliament changes the law as part of the deal are commonplace.

For example, Treaty of Waitangi settlements invariably involve a raft of law changes that the government negotiates and agrees to. These always involve changing the law to advantage particular iwi in exchange for less taxpayer cash.  

Each Treaty settlement produces a slew of parliamentary law making.

The law changes now involve constitutional-style change, including Resource Management Act veto rights for iwi and reserved seats for iwi on local councils. These law changes are negotiated by government and iwi.

The wowsers are deathly silent on Treaty settlement changes to the law. It’s not that the “law is for sale” that offends them.

It’s that the Sky City deal involves two big wowser no-nos: business making money and people having non-approved fun gambling with their own money. Wowserism. It remains alive and well in New Zealand.

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Rodney the "perk buster" used to be hot about the misuse of tax payers money - but that all changed when he himself was caught dipping into it - seems he's lost his moral compass.



I am sorry I have been away from my computer but hopefully this reply will cheer you up.

The travel perk used to be Parliament's dirty little secret started by Norman Kirk as a way of rewarding MPs without the public knowing.

I exposed it.

After much to-ing and froi-ing, and a few trips to the back of the woodshed for me, and some years, it was grandfathered out for new MPs, and the Remuneration Authority took into account in setting MPs' pay. That is, it was totalled and deducted effectively out of MPs' pay.

As a result, there is now no net cost to the taxpayer. I'm quite proud of achieving that result and took a great many hidings from Labour and National to achieve it. I would prefer a simple abolition but couldn't achieve that.

Thanks to me, the travel is no longer a secret "perk" but a public part of the overall remuneration package set independently by the RA.

I know that's not as good story as perkbuster busted, and not something to get angry about, but there you go.

That's the facts. You can stay angry. That's up to you. It doesn't bother me.


If all you can do , Anonymous, is attack the writer personally it suggests you agree with his points.


Thanks Anon. It's especially the case in NZ policy discussion to attck the person and not debate the issue.

I no longer have to worry about it.

It says more about those doing the attacking than the person attacked. In my humble opinion.


In your mind, Rodney - anything can crawl.


Actually, it suggests the opposite to me...


If the crown wants to put another 500 pokie machines on the negotiating table then it should have given this information to all bidders.

Having said that, I do not understand why the government is regulating pokie machines at all, nor why the proceeds of pokie machines must go to self-serving charities.

I’d let every corner dairy have one if that is what the punters want and let Mr Patel keep the profits. Better the money goes to hard working business people that indolent losers and overpaid management stooges who usually benefit from the activities of charities.


Why should the details of one bid be given to the other bidders? You might be right Damien but I would have though everyone makes a bid and the government takes the best one. It's unclear to me why there should be a show and tell and a new round of bidding. When would that end?

Also, only Sky City is able to operate a casino in Auckland. So I guess that would mean opening up the prospect of a second casino for Auckland which I doubt Parliament, Government or New Zealanders would agree to me.

I am with you. It's not obvious to me that a free market i. Pokies would exacerbate the problem.


Debate about poker machine numbers should not be the issue.

Instead, address the addictive nature of the machines themselves


Angry Birds is addictive. What is your point?


Agreed. Sugar is "addictive". But what does that mean exactly? It seems to me that the very concept of addiction is to deny any responsibility for personal choice, no matter how hard, and to remove the thought that the "addict" can beat the "addiction".

Why do we always want to do that? Why don't we want to believe taht they can beat whatever it is that is pulling them in?


Rodney makes a good point that political capital is being made out of the perception that "the law is for sale". This is clearly not the case, the law is up for negotiation when it comes to treaty settlements - deals are done with Iwi, why shouldn't they be done with Sky City?


Thank you. Deals on New Zealand law are common place.

For example, dairy farmers want a merger od two dairy co - ops that would not be possible under NZ law and do a deal withgovernment to effect the change.


Things are looking very dire for Banksy. I do believe I can hear the death watch beetle.


Not me! Off topic! Don't know!


One of the main reasons pokie machine numbers have declined is due to the fact of a declining economy and failing venue busineses.Many could have survived if they were given the abilty to retain profits as the Govt legislated &protected casino rackets are.This applies to the decline in the horse racing industry as well, because various forms of gambling are not treated equally before the law the system is inherently corrupted. If the Government of the day gave an operator the licence for 1000 pokie machines I'm sure they could build a 700 mill convention centre.Would this same govt do a deal with a local tavern and give them licence to have 50 gaming machines and increase their ability to host conventions? I think not .


I guess that's the sinking lid policy on pokies in action.

You make a good point, one I don't know the answer to and which makes me uncomfortabe: what are the limits to this?

I mean should the government of the day grant a new casino in return for a new hospital, or, more possible, grant an Iwi a casino in lieu of a cash Treaty settlement?

I guess it might relate to compatibilities : casinos and conventions sort of fit together in my mind -- I understand Las Vegas to be casino AND convention heaven (or hell!).

They go together. Casinos and hospitals? Not so much.


That response was so dumb it's scary.


Question: I understood the deal envisaged is that Sky City build and operate the convention centre. Is that correct?

If so, other options have to be tested against both operational value and credibility. Most those proposed above would certainly fail.


Rodney the magician. How does the treaty settlement process (supposedly righting past wrongs) relate to the casino development process (locking down future earnings)? Make us look somewhere else while the slight-of-hand performs the trick.

For me the issue with the convention center is that it stinks. In a country where due process is supposed to apply, we find what looks like a cosy back-room deal done between cronies. If it smells, it is probably bad. Even a good deal done in the wrong way lessens our society.

But it is not really any different from the deal that got done over the Epsom electorate before the last election.

There are those who govern, and there are the masses. More and more I feel those who govern treat the masses with disrespect and disdain.

When and how do we say enough is enough?


Who has the right to say enough is enough if no-one is harming anyone else? Should we [supposedly the superior ones] protect those who cannot protect themselves - against themselves? Surely that is what free market charities are about. We are in a very low evolutionary stage of free markets figuring out the best result. Unfortunately bureacrat do-gooders build empires and slow the whole evolutionary process down. Hopefully breaucrats will shortly make it so bad e.g. fallout from the GFC and EU crisis that the people will figure out that it is time to take back government. That should be done from the bottom up. Bottoms up guys.


Very well said Rodney.
This Sky City deal is a no brainer.
A convention centre for Auckland at no cost to the ratepayers or taxpayers.
And it will be well run by professionals.
Can't be much wrong with that.


A typical quid-pro-quo deal where sky city gets 500 extra pokie machines in exchange for a convention center. And NZ gets to deal with the social consequences.

Has Rodney received donations from sky city I wonder? Quid pro quo?


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