National | Drugs

Losing half million dollars as Skycity push for more pokies machines

Māori man breaks his silence subjected to a 25 year gambling addiction. Now, he speaks out against Skycity Casino in Hamilton at the second hearing that sees the company push for more pokies machines.

Jason Rippey, 43, told Te Ao Māori News he has spent over $500,000 on gambling and has also spent ten years at the Hamilton based Skycity Casino.

“I was mainly lying to my wife and my children, ‘dads just going to the pub just for a couple’, but really i was going to the casino to waste all my money.”

However, Skycity Hamilton have filed four applications to the New Zealand Gambling Commission in order to add 60 more pokies machines as a substitute for three of their Blackjack round tables.

Jason testified in front of the second hearing panel in order to stop Skycity from adding more pokies machines which he claims is targeting vulnerable Māori. In Aotearoa, Māori make up 16.7% of the population in gambling.

“All I see is brown people right through till 7 o'clock in the morning,” he says.

Skycity wasn't available for comment but may respond after the completion of the hearings.

For Jason’s mother Val Rippey, the experience for her runs deeper.

“You're worried you're picking up your child out of a gutter,” she says.

“I even use to go a check out the sheds now and then and make sure that he hasn't self-harmed himself.”

Now, that Jason is a reformed gambler, his love for whanau time and work has replaced his gambling addiction, he says.