Concern at rise in gambling in Christchurch

8:26 pm on 26 July 2011

The Problem Gambling Foundation says it is concerned more Christchurch people are turning to gambling to combat stress from earthquakes.

It says spending on pokie machines in Christchurch has risen by almost $4 million, going against a downward national trend.

The foundation says the data released by the Department of Internal Affairs shows spending on gaming machines rose by more than $3,800,000 in Christchurch city to almost $23 million.

Spending increased by more than $100,000 in the Selwyn District and by more than $200,000 in Waimakariri.

A spokesperson for the foundation says it is the largest amount spent on pokies in Christchurch in some years and is concerned residents are trying to escape stress and boost their incomes following the September 2010 and February quakes.

Tony Milne is urging pokie venues to provide customers with information about where to seek help.

The foundation says pokie venues must be more vigilant about host responsibility and provide customers with information about where to seek help.

Bar manager Steve Moffett estimates he has seen 70% more people playing his pokie machines and visiting the Islington Tavern since the quakes.

However, he believes its due to a lack of other activities rather than people engaging in problem gambling.

Mr Moffett says his staff do query customers if they withdraw more money to play the pokies, but it is hard to judge whether people might have a problem.