Elderly will still have a wager - don't bet on it
Trackside moving to SkyOREN OAARIKI
Senior citizens are fuming as the TAB's Trackside channel moves to a pay TV service.
Some Taranaki people say having the channel will be too expensive when it moves over to Sky television on April 14.
"So many of us can't afford the luxury of Sky TV," former Grey Power president Doug Wilson said.
Mr Wilson said the Government had already axed Teletext and several channels elderly enjoyed but Trackside was a step to far.
"The Government seems to want to close down entertainment entirely for the elderly," he said.
"It's just like another New Zealand asset sale."
Mr Wilson said having the occasional gamble every now and then was a pleasure that many senior citizens would have to forgo once Trackside was gone
He said many of the residents in his block of flats spent around $10 a day on betting but were considering giving up gambling.
"It's one of the very few treats we have in life and that $10 is their link to sanity."
Another concerned senior citizen, Bob Sheridan, who lives at a local rest home, said the cost of living was already too high and paying for Trackside on Sky was simply unreasonable.
A minimum Sky package would cost nearly $20 a month.
After paying all his bills Mr Sheridan was left with a modest $43 which he usually used to buy personal items.
He said he would watch Trackside most days for at least a few hours to keep up with the races as his son was involved with horses.
The shift would now mean he would have to go to the pub or the TAB to watch it.
Being confined to a wheelchair for more than a decade had left Mr Sheridan few options to travel independently.
He said getting out to the pub was enjoyable on occasions but many of the pubs didn't cater for people in wheelchairs.
He said the TAB's decision to take Trackside off Freeview was pretty disappointing.
"It's just bloody mean," he said.
"It can get a bit boring around here and it's something that gives a lot of us in the home something to do."
He said when he could afford it, having a gamble was a lot of fun and something many of the residents would miss.
"Once you get to one of these places you don't have a lot of freedom," he said.
"Having a little bet every now and then is one of the only pleasures we have."
Oren Oaariki is a Whitireia journalism school student
- © Fairfax NZ News
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