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Fairer distribution of pokies funding sought

Fairer distribution of pokies funding sought


Auckland Council is calling for government to amend regulations so that proceeds from Class 4 gaming machines (pokies) are distributed more fairly to Auckland communities.

The council’s Regional Strategy and Policy Committee heard last week that national regulations proposing that 80 per cent of grant money generated from Class 4 gaming be returned to the region in which it was generated is not suitable for Auckland.

“We would like to see the Minister of Internal Affairs consider defining areas within Auckland so that the proceeds generated within them, would go back to that community,” says committee chair, Cr George Wood.

“A one-size approach does not fit all. Auckland has very diverse communities, and should not be treated the same as other regions.”

Defining areas in Auckland would also ensure that communities get a fairer return for the amount its people put in to the machines.

The report included an analysis showing that lower socio-economic local board areas in Auckland were producing the most money from pokie venues, receiving a disproportionate share of the grant money.

For example, in the Māngere-Ōtāhuhu Local Board area only 22 per cent of the money generated by that community is returned back in grants to that community.

A political working group of councillors, local board members and representatives from the Independent Māori Statutory Board was established last year to develop council’s response to proposed reform of Class 4 gambling sector.

The committee endorsed the working party’s proposed response which would see the chair write to the Minister of Internal Affairs asking that the regulations be amended by:
establishing defined areas in Auckland
endorsing that a 80 per cent return of grant money to these defined areas
establish that a different rate of return be introduced for Auckland’s central city and Gulf Islands of 40 or 45 per cent.

To help inform its response to the proposals, the council has gathered information on the pokie grants given to Auckland organisations over the past five years and which local board area they are in.

“While it is not a definitive list it has been valuable in giving us a clearer picture of where the money is going,” says Cr Wood.

This information is now available on an online portal (https://aucklandcouncil.demo.socrata.com)

Background

In 2013, Auckland Council made a submission on the Gambling (Gambling Harm Reduction) Amendment Bill – commonly referred to as the “Flavell Bill”

The Bill was passed on 13 September 2013 as the Gambling (Gambling Harm Reduction) Amendment Act, providing the Minister of Internal Affairs with new powers to make regulations

In May this year, these new regulations were announced and included requiring gaming machine societies (pokie trusts) to distribute 80 per cent of gaming machine net proceeds in the same regional council area in which the proceeds were generated

This week, the Minister announced new regulations also mean that from 4 September gaming machine societies will have to increase the rate of return of gross proceeds from 37.12 per cent to 42 per cent over five years

Auckland Council has no regulatory powers to manage the distribution of proceeds from these gaming machines

In 2013 the council adopted its Class 4 Gambling Venue Policy which introduced a sinking lid on the number of venues in the region.

Ends

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