Veteran activist John Minto is set to launch a campaign of "civil disobedience" to close a controversial poker machine outlet, saying he is prepared to personally smash its machines with a hammer.
Minto yesterday led a protest outside Galaxy Takeaways, in the Otara shopping centre in South Auckland, which for the past eight months has operated 18 poker machines.
Its venue licence was cancelled recently by the Department of Internal Affairs.
But Galaxy Takeaways has been given an exemption to keep its machines working after management lodged an appeal to the Gambling Commission.
Speaking to the Sunday Star- Times in a courtyard outside the shop, Minto said he would do everything in his power to get the machines turned off for good.
"We will be back and this may come down to a case of civil disobedience," the Mana Party vice- president Minto said.
"If outfits like this are allowed to flout the law, the community has a right to come in and assert themselves. And I think this community will come in and assert itself over places like this.
"If a community says 'No', I would be prepared to stand with them, all of us with hammers, and go in and smash the machines.
"Let's do it ourselves. Let's go in and get rid of them."
Minto said Mana had received figures that Galaxy Takeaways machines had "sucked" approximately $864,000 out of the Otara community.
Management at the Galaxy takeaway bar would not comment.
It could take several months for the Gambling Commission to hear the takeaway bar's appeal.
Minto said while computer games were nothing new on the premises of takeaway bars, such as Space Invaders or Pac-man, he said it was a moral outrage that one shop was now offering poker machines. "It is appalling . . . do you want pokies with your fries?" he said.
"It is real cockroach capitalism. There is a law there, the boundaries are very vague, and you have a whole industry on flouting the law . . . working and weaseling their way around the law.
"This has to be closed down.
"You have got to run an entertainment centre [to have pokies]. This is not an entertainment centre, it is a fast-food outlet."
Minto called on communities such as South Auckland to adopt eradicating poker machines as a hot topic ahead of next year's local body elections.
He reiterated that the Mana Party was committed to outlawing the "highly addictive" machines, which he said caused widespread social "destruction".
"A tiny amount trickles back into the community through grants.
"The trusts are making huge amounts of money, giving the minimum back to the community they can. We have got to stop this appalling behaviour, which is ripping communities apart."
- © Fairfax NZ News
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