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Gaming Controls In A Mess



The recent inability of the Department of Internal Affairs to state how many gaming machines were located in the Wellington region highlights a major problem.

The Gaming Machine Association of New Zealand (GMANZ) said that any organisation charged with the regulatory control of an activity such as gaming machines, should at the very least, know where those machines are. "We spend nearly $2.5 million on licence fees each year yet the Department cannot maintain even a simple database.

The Chairman of GMANZ Roger Parton was commenting on a recent statement by the Associate Minister of Economic Development Phillida Bunkle who claimed that Wellington had nearly 20% more gaming machines than Auckland yet only one quarter of the population. Ms Bunkle went on to outline the supposedly dire consequences for the Wellington region and that she was to hold an economic impact study into the effects of gaming machines in the region.

"Obviously her statements were totally wrong and based on grossly inaccurate figures provided by the Department" he said. "I note that the impact study has been put on hold an I would suggest that the attention of the Government would be better directed at the ability of its Department to maintain a simple database. They told Ms Bunkle there were 6,800 gaming machines in the Wellington region. By our records, the figure is closer to 2,000. That is a gross error.

Mr Parton said that the Department of Internal affairs was criticised by the Auditor General a couple of years ago for its inability to effectively regulate the gaming machine industry. "It appears little has changed in the basics of regulatory control" he said.

GMANZ welecomes the Minister of Internal Affairs proposal to overhaul the gaming laws but points out that a major Gaming Review was commenced in 1995 and has yet to be finished. "I hope that we are not going to have yet another review, tinkering with old legislation and piece meal changes to the industry' Mr Parton said. "The Minister should give the completion of the current Gaming Review the highest priority and then make legislative changes."




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