Sports clubs and community groups are being urged to have their say at the upcoming Matamata-Piako District Council gambling venue policy review. Clubs and community groups currently receive over $2.4 million a year from the gaming machines located in the district’s 13 gaming venues.
The gaming funding generated is used to support sports clubs such as Waihou Rugby Football Club and Te Aroha Indoor Basketball; community organisations such as Youth Empowerment Service Charitable Trust; local schools including Springdale School; and local 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 “have your say” link on the home page of the Matamata-Piako District Council’s website. Submissions close 22 April 2019.
Mr Robertson’s own submission supports the retention of the current gaming machine caps that allow for a very small amount of additional growth.
Council’s statement of proposal summarises the relevant research and data. The key findings of the report include:
The Matamata-Piako District has consistently lower gaming machine revenue than its neighbouring councils.
The Matamata-Piako District gaming machine spend per head is consistently lower than neighbouring councils.
The Matamata-Piako District has a lower density of gaming machines per head of population than the Hauraki District, Waipa District, South Waikato District and Thames-Coromandel District.
The number of problem gambling referrals from residents within the Matamata-Piako District is low, compared to neighbouring councils. The Matamata-Piako District also has a low rate of gambling harm compared to the national rate.
The funding received by local community organisations is critical to their ongoing sustainability.
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.
Gaming Machine Association of New Zealand
027 440 0650