21 May 2013

Community groups criticise convention centre deal

1:34 pm on 21 May 2013

A number of Auckland community groups have condemned the deal with SkyCity over a controversial convention centre as a move backward for the fight against problem gambling.

SkyCity will pay for and build the $402 million centre in Auckland. In return, the Government will extend its Auckland casino licence until 2048 and allow it to operate 230 more poker machines and extra gaming tables.

The Green Party held a hui on Tuesday to look at problems presented by the Government's deal with the casino operator.

Public health organisation Hapai te Hauora Tapui says it is among many organisations working on initiatives to fight gambling in the Maori community, and the SkyCity deal undermines all the hard work of those groups.

Major Campbell Roberts of the Salvation Army says communities will be paying the price for the convention centre in years to come.

He says a convention centre is needed but the extra 230 poker machines are not, and they will destroy families.

Green Party gambling spokesperson Denise Roche says community organisations pick up the pieces from problem gambling but are being ignored while the Government forges on with the project.