Vulnerable people 'banking aspirations' on pokies, as SkyCity Hamilton proposes bringing in more, expert says

Pokie machines may bring in good revenue, but adding more could be damaging for vulnerable communities, an academic says as SkyCity Hamilton considers swapping out blackjack tables for pokie machines.

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Wiremu Manaia gives his thoughts ahead of public submissions on SkyCity Hamilton swapping out black jack tables for pokie machines. Source: Breakfast

SkyCity Hamilton wants to clear out three blackjack tables and replace them with 60 extra pokie machines, taking the total up to 399.

News of the plans earlier in the year stirred up opposition from Hamilton councillors who have spent more than $100,000 of ratepayer money to fight the proposal.

Public submissions on the issue are closing tomorrow.

Manakau Institute of Technology senior lecturer in technology Wiremu Manaia told TVNZ1's Breakfast today people had to understand SkyCity is a business and bringing in more pokie machines is a good revenue generating decision.

But Mr Manaia is concerned for vulnerable communities, in poorer areas of New Zealand, being targeted. There were tonnes of machines in South Auckland, he said.

"It's pretty depressing really ... it's a whole lot of people banking their aspirations on machines that are designed to make money.

"The biggest concern for pokies is actually the pokie machines that are out in the community, not so much in the casinos."

Players on blackjack could slowly play the game, but pokies are fast-paced and have people mindlessly pushing a button with little reward, Mr Manaia says.

"It's a brainless process and its very,very addictive."

While he supported those challenging the proposal, Mr Manaia also gave credit to the fact SkyCity does give back by donating to various community and charitable groups.