A bill giving local authorities the power to cut back on pokie machines in pubs and clubs, or get rid of them altogether, has passed its first reading in parliament with strong support.
The member's bill was drafted by Maori Party MP Te Ururoa Flavell, who says many families have lost everything because of problem gambling.
He says up to 85 per cent of problem gamblers use non-casino pokie machines and most of them are in low-income areas.
Under the bill local authorities would consult their communities about the number of pokie machines in suburbs and towns, and have the power to order their reduction or elimination within 12 months.
The bill doesn't deal with casino pokies, which are covered by their own laws, but it has come up for debate as the government is embroiled in a row about its deal with Sky City.
It is negotiating for Sky City to build a $340 million national convention centre in Auckland in exchange for being allowed extra pokies in its casino.
There was strong support for the bill during the debate and it passed its first reading on a personal vote of 83 to seven.
It has been sent to the commerce select committee for public submissions.Member's bills progress slowly because they are only debated every second Wednesday when parliament is sitting.
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