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Media Statement - Whakatane District Council Gambling Venue Policy Review

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Community Participation Urged in the Whakatane District Council’s Upcoming Gaming Machine Policy Review

For immediate release

Community Participation Urged in the Whakatane District Council’s Upcoming Gaming Machine Policy Review

Sports clubs and community groups are being urged to have their say at the upcoming Whakatane District Council gambling venue policy review.  Clubs and community groups currently receive over $4 million a year from the gaming machines located in the district’s 12 gaming venues.

The gaming funding generated is used to support community organisations such as Eastern Bay of Plenty Riding for the Disabled, Manawahe Eco Trust, and Eastbay Rural Education Activities; local schools including Whakatane High School, Apanui School, and Allandale School; and local kindergartens and playcentres.  Bruce Robertson, representing a gaming industry group, stated that although these organisations find the funding extremely valuable, there is little publicity around the benefit that comes from gaming grants. Mr Robertson urged community groups to make a submission to council detailing what they have been able to achieve with the funding obtained. Submissions can be made on the policy by clicking the gambling policy review link on the home page of the Whakatane District Council’s website. Submissions close 29 April 2019.

Mr Robertson’s own submission noted that the time has come to consider replacing the restrictive cap of 141 gaming machines with a cap of 179 gaming machines (the current number operating), given the District’s population growth and medium risk rating.

Council has undertaken a social impact assessment.  The report notes that when compared with New Zealand as a whole, the Whakatane District has a low number of clients seeking help for problem gambling.  The assessment records that the revenue per gaming machine in Whakatane is lower than the national average. The report also concludes that the current number of gaming machines per head of population is already low, and considered to be “low risk”.  Overall, the Whakatane District scored 14 (out of 24) on the Ministry of Health gambling risk assessment scale, indicating that the overall level of gambling risk is medium, not high.

Mr Robertson warned that erosion of the community funding infrastructure was leading to more and more grant applications being declined, due to a lack of available funds for distribution.  

The New Zealand National Gambling Study: Wave 3 (2014) noted that the problem gambling rate had remained the same over the previous 10-15 years, despite gaming machine numbers decreasing.  

Mr Robertson also warned that any further reduction in the local gaming machine offering may also lead to a migration of the gambling spend to offshore internet- and mobile-based offerings.  While it is illegal to advertise overseas gambling in New Zealand, it is not illegal to participate in gambling on an overseas-based website or mobile phone application. Mr Robertson commented that offshore-based online gambling poses considerable risks because it is highly accessible, being available 24 hours a day from the comfort and privacy of your home.  In contrast to gaming venues, offshore-based online gambling does not generate any community funding for New Zealanders, no tax revenue is generated for the New Zealand Government, and no contributions are made to problem gambling treatment providers via the problem gambling levy.

4 April 2019

Media contact:

Bruce Robertson
Independent Chair
Gaming Machine Association of New Zealand

[email protected]

027 440 0650 

The Gaming Machine Association of New Zealand represents the vast majority of the gaming machine societies that operate in New Zealand.  

Source: GMANZ