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PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (July 31, 2000 - Radio Australia’s Pacific Beat)---A survey of 700 gamblers in the capital city, Port Moresby, said they support a government ban on poker machines in the country.

According to the survey, most poker machine players said they realize their families are suffering due to poverty and domestic violence because of their gambling. But they said it’s still hard to kick the habit.

"The gamblers I interviewed said even though they lose (money), they keep spending," said the University of Papua New Guinea’s Teine Meine, who conducted the survey.

"About 81 percent of the gamblers said they don’t give money to their families for basic necessities, such as food, school fees, and bus fares. They have to depend on relatives (for money)," Meine said in an interview with Pacific Beat’s Clement Paligaru.

Almost 100 percent of the gamblers -- or 697 of those surveyed -- said they want a government ban on poker machines.

"The gamblers are frustrated," Meine said.

Meine said the introduction of Automatic Teller Machines (ATMs) has made it easy for gamblers to zero out their bank accounts in one night to feed their gambling habits.

He added that a government ban on poker machines would be difficult to accomplish due to pressure from business interests.

For additional reports from Radio Australia/Pacific Beat, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Radio/TV News/Radio Australia/Pacific Beat.

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