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Media Statement - Waitaki District Council Gambling Venue Policy Review


For immediate release

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

Sports clubs and community groups are being urged to have their say at the upcoming Waitaki District Council gambling venue policy review. Clubs and community groups currently receive approximately $1.34 million a year from the gaming machines located in the district’s 11 gaming venues.

The gaming funding generated is used to support sports clubs such as the North Otago Rugby Football Union, the North Otago Hockey Association and Athletics Otago; local theatre groups; local schools; and even the local pony club. Bruce Robertson, representing the Gaming Machine Association of New Zealand, 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 “Say It” link on the home page of the Waitaki District Council’s website. Submissions close 5 September 2018.

Mr Robertson’s own submission asks council to retain the current population-based cap on gaming machine numbers. His submission also asks council to enable gaming venues to move to new, modern premises, to move to buildings that have a higher earthquake rating, and to move if the current landlord is imposing unreasonable terms.

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 Ministry of Health keeps a record of the number of people in each territorial authority who seek help via phone, text, email or the face-to-face counselling services that are available. The most recently available data (the year from July 2016 to June 2017) shows that only one new person from the Waitaki District sought help for problem gambling.

The recently published New Zealand National Gambling Study noted that the problem gambling rate had remained the same over the previous 20 years, despite gaming machine numbers decreasing significantly in the same period.

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.

28 August 2018

Media contact:

Bruce Robertson

Independent Chair

Gaming Machine Association of New Zealand

027 440 0650

The Gaming Machine Association of New Zealand represents the vast majority of the gaming machine societies that operate in New Zealand. Clubs and venue operators are also represented by the Association, via their membership of Clubs New Zealand, the Royal New Zealand Returned and Services’ Association, and Hospitality New Zealand.