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Don't Kill The Goose …….

17 April 2002

Presenting their submission on the Responsible Gambling Bill to the Select Committee today, the Gaming Machine Association of New Zealand (GMANZ) cautioned the Government not to kill the goose that lays the golden eggs, by imposing too many restrictions on the charitable gaming machine sector.

GMANZ spokesman Garry Ward, says New Zealand is one of the few countries in the world where all the profits from gaming machines outside Casino's are required by law to go to community and charitable causes.

"The impact of $200 million per year to the community should not be underestimated", he says, "and lumping too many costs and restrictions on this sector will reduce the money available for grants".

Ward says the proposed costs causing concern include the cost of electronic monitoring of the machines and a quadrupling of the Problem Gambling Levy.

"We have no problem with electronic monitoring, but if it is going to cost a lot, it is just using up money that would have otherwise gone to the community. Site operators are currently only allowed to claim "actual and reasonable" operating costs and this is audited by the Department of Internal Affairs. To date, there has been no prosecution or loss of licence for breaching these regulations that we are aware of."

"While we are also supportive of the Problem Gambling Levy, where is the justification for a fivefold increase over five years? The numbers of people who seek and receive treatment are relatively small (around 4,000 in 2001) compared to the number of New Zealanders who gamble (90%)", he says.

"The Lotteries Commission and the TAB are looking for ways to boost flagging sales with more inventive and sophisticated ways to get New Zealanders gambling, with little Government interference. Meanwhile, the Responsible Gambling Bill aims to put all sorts of restrictions and costs on the charity gaming machine sector, he says.

He says that in addition to the $200 million in community grants, the sector creates about 10,000 jobs that would not otherwise exist.

ENDS

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