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Gambling’s problems outweigh the good

Gambling’s problems outweigh the good

Recent media comment in support of the system that sees pokie machine trusts dishing out grants to community and sporting groups has been questioned by national gambling issues lobby group, GamblingWatch.

Co-ordinator Dave Macpherson said “the PR spin from the national pokie trusts would have us all believe that, without them, community and social support agencies would go out of existence.

“There are a number of problems with this argument.

“Firstly, what did all of these groups do for the funds they needed before pokies became so widespread in the 1990’s? They fundraised through bottle drives, membership subs, cake stalls and ordinary commercial sponsorships.

“They were operating before pokies came along, and will be operating after they are gone,” said Mr Macpherson.

“Secondly, for every dollar given to an essential social service by a pokie trust, about three dollars has been lost by someone into one of their pokie machines.

“As the majority of money lost on pokies is understood to come from a small number of gamblers, often those with addiction problems, it is likely that the grants from pokie trusts would not even be covering the costs of the damage they cause.

“It is also often true that the money lost does not go back into the areas it is lost from, let alone to the people who lost it, who are often those most in need.

“This is not to say that the groups receiving these grants should be condemned, which we don’t do, but recipients need to acknowledge that harm may have occurred while the money they are granted was being raised,” said Mr Macpherson.

“So the $120 million the Lion Foundation, Pub Charity and NZ Community Trust gave out last year, came at the cost of about $350 million lost by the community.

In the 2004-5 financial year, $1,027,000,000 was lost into pokie machines, about half of the total amount lost on all forms of legal gambling.

“Unfortunately, successive Governments have seen pokie trust grants as a convenient means of avoiding paying for essential social and community services, and at the same time avoiding attention on the $600 million tax take the Government gets itself from gambling.

“Over the last 5 years, the Govt has actually withdrawn two alternative funds that used to significantly support community-based organizations, and openly redirected prospective recipients to pokie trusts.

“Now we are being bombarded with good news stories about gambling because the pokie industry is campaigning to have the Christchurch City Council relax its gambling venue policy to enable more pokies to be placed in a city that already has more than most.

“It is only unfortunate that worthwhile social service agencies are being used as cannon fodder by the industry in their PR campaign,”said Mr Macpherson


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