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Gaming Machine Association Slams New Govt. Tax

NEWS RELEASE

23 November, 2001

GMANZ SLAMS NEW GOVT TAX

The Gaming Machine Association of New Zealand (GMANZ) is highly critical of the Government's announcement today that the Problem Gambling Levy is to increase from $6 million, to $20 million by 2004, describing it as a tax grab from the community.

GMANZ represents those who have an interest in gaming machines outside Casino's, including; most of the major operators of gaming machines in hotels, all national bodies representing clubs with gaming machines, and distributors and manufacturers of gaming machines.

New independent Chairperson for GMANZ, Garry Ward, says all the proceeds from pokies in pubs and clubs, after tax and operating costs, (currently $150 million per year) go directly to the community by way of charitable grants. He says any extra levy taken from the sector will reduce the funds that can be distributed to the community.

Garry Ward says the gaming industry already pays $6 million per annum to directly fund problem gambling treatment, and an additional $88 million flows into the Government's coffers from a special gaming duty. "Of the $88 million collected, none is currently directed specifically to problem gambling, it just goes into the consolidated account."

Gary Ward says the Government should be providing the public with a detailed business plan of how the money will be spent, since it will no longer be available to fund community projects and sports teams.

"Department of Internal Affairs statistics tell us that just over 2,000 people presented for problem gambling treatment in 1999. A $20 million budget for the size of the problem seems to be excessive and equates to about $10,000 per problem gambler."

Gary Ward says the communities that benefit from the proceeds of pokies from pubs and clubs, have the right to know how the money will be spent. "It will be the local playcentres, parents groups, playgrounds and sports teams that will be making the sacrifice", he said.

Gary Ward says, GMANZ support having a treatment and prevention programme to tackle problem gambling, but significant funding is already in place. "There needs to be accountability, or it is just a straight back door tax on the charitable sector."

ENDS For further information, please contact:

Garry Ward, Independent Chairman of GMANZ, ph 04 293 7700, Mobile 025 452 700, or Ian Bray, CEO Pub Charity Inc, 04 385 6100 or 025 574 250

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