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United Future approach to decisionmaking applauded

United Future approach to decision-making applauded

United Future New Zealand is to be congratulated on the amount of research and effort its MPs put into the Gambling Bill and the sector, before making decisions, Chairman of the Charity Gaming Association, Paul East, said today.

The Charity Gaming Association is made up of national trusts which own about 40% of the gaming machines in hotels and taverns and which distribute about $130 million a year to community groups and charities.

Mr East said United Future had debated the Bill and the sector with Association members and had submitted a series of written questions, seeking written responses.

“Members were very impressed with the way United Future conducted detailed research rather than jumping to conclusions, or basing their decisions on one-sided media reports,” he said.

“This behaviour is in sharp contrast to the conduct of many groups who have scant knowledge of the sector but have closed their minds to any new information.

“The $20 note acceptors are an excellent example. Research shows that people addicted to gambling do not change their behaviour if they use coins, but people who want a quick flutter do. In other words, the banning of note acceptors has no impact on problem gambling statistics.

“However, the use of thousands of thousands of coins in venues causes all sorts of health and safety issues for the staff, not to mention security risks.”

Mr East said he was disturbed by the vitriol aimed at United Future who had taken a common-sense and balanced approach to the Gambling Bill.

“United Future recognised that the internet is here to stay. New Zealand can either ignore that and New Zealanders can gamble on overseas sites. Or New Zealanders can gamble with the Lotteries Commission and we all benefit from the taxes and levies,” he said.

“The other feature of this argument that has apparently been missed by those quick to condemn United Future is this: the Government-owned Lotteries Commission lobbied long and hard for internet gaming to halt the decline in its revenues. The Government agreed with that approach.”

Mr East said he was aware that by speaking out, United Future would be accused of pandering to the sector.

“That is rubbish. We wanted a number of changes to the Bill that have not been made.

“However, New Zealand should be very grateful to United Future for its continued support in retaining the local distribution of gaming machine funds, instead of establishing a Wellington-based bureaucracy.

“Every New Zealand family benefits in some way from the $260 million distributed every year to rescue helicopters, schools, charities, community groups, sports clubs and many more places, from gaming machines. We can’t afford to lose these funds by spending them on bureaucratic structures,” Mr East said.

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