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Concern over poker machine grant mismanagement

Concern over poker machine grant mismanagement

By Sally Hine - AUT Journalism Student

Recent controversy over pokie trust funding has sparked concerns that money is not going back into deserving communities.

The Problem Gambling Foundation has asked the Department of Internal Affairs to investigate claims about dubious pokie trust funding of the racing industry.

The Gambling Act forbids any gambling operators from receiving benefits in the distribution of grants.

The foundation’s director of social marketing, Bill Bradford says the situation has been concerning them for some time but nothing has yet been done about it.

“The trust continuously denied funding the racing industry, but they have finally owned up so now we hope something can be done to stop this sort of distribution of gambling money.”

Bill Bradford says this case raises the big issue of the distribution of funding and its inequity.

Distributions of money should be more transparent so there can be greater accountability and so the communities get back what they have lost he says.

“The problem is that the money comes out of poorer communities and goes to the rich. The people who race horses are not the deserving poor, there is no way they should be the beneficiaries.”

Avondale, Royal Oak, and Onehunga are just some of the communities around Auckland that have been identified as being vulnerable to gambling according to the 2005 Ministry of Health study.

The study identifies the number of non casino gambling machines around Auckland. It shows that communities such as Avondale and Newton have significantly high numbers of pokie machines.

An average pokie machine earns $45,000, but only one in three dollars at best goes back to where it came from because of the way the pokie trust distribute their money, says Mr Bradford.

“Poorer communities are caught up in this cycle of harm; they are left gutted from it. They need the trust money to rebuild what the pokies have destroyed," says Mr Bradford

In 2007 gambling expenditure increased for the first time in three years from $1.977 billion to $2.020 billion.

The national gambling free day is on the 1st of September.


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