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Reliance on gambling funds - losers all round

Reliance on gambling funding for sports & community groups creates losers all round

Gambling issues lobby group GamblingWatch has criticised “successive governments for forcing sports and community groups to develop an unhealthy reliance on uncertain gambling money for their existence.”

Recent comment in the sporting fraternity has centred on the possible demise of up to three teams from the 8-team NZ Football (Soccer) Championship, with a fall-off in pokie trust grants being cited as the primary contributor to their shaky futures.

Co-ordinator Dave Macpherson said “unfortunately it is no surprise that clubs, competitions and community programmes may go under.”

“Due to an almost complete denial of both the benefits and financial needs of volunteer-run organisations in the community, successive governments have given most groups no choice but to seek ever-increasing amounts of cash from the pokie industry.”

“Those grants are always uncertain, and a combination of factors are making them even more uncertain, and the future of many clubs and groups is shaky as a result.”

He pointed to several issues in the current community funding crisis:

• Pokie trust income has only dropped 3.5% in the last year, so the bottom has not dropped out of the ‘funding market’ as is claimed by some

• A handful of large (often professional) sporting organizations – e.g. rugby, racing and netball - are getting very large grants from pokie trusts, leaving very little for small or medium size clubs and groups

• More clubs and groups are applying for funds from pokie trusts, and charitable trusts, than before

• Some years ago, the current Government removed the Hillary Commission sport and recreation grants available for local sporting clubs and schools, openly stating that they should substitute pokie trust money for these lost grants

• Small, local pokie trusts that previously shared funding more widely around local communities have been swallowed up by large national trusts with different processes and priorities

• The Department of Internal Affairs, responsible for overseeing pokie trusts’ use of gambling funds, does not believe it has a role in seeing the available funds are shared more equitably

• There is no process for holding pokie trusts – distributing hundreds of millions in ‘community benefit’ funding each year – accountable to the public, either for their processes or their funding priorities

• Anecdotal evidence continues to suggest that ‘its not what you know, but who you know’ that is one of the biggest determining factors in which groups receive substantial pokie trust funding.

Mr Macpherson challenged political parties to state, in the current election campaign, their vision to improve the dire funding situation for medium and small community and sporting organizations.

ENDS

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