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No Horses on the Courses


...Press Release...
June 5, 2008   

No Horses on the Courses
The Problem Gambling Foundation is asking what the New Zealand Racing Board is playing at with its plan to introduce virtual racing.
The Board has asked the Department of Internal Affairs for permission to run computer generated horse races at TAB outlets.
Problem Gambling Foundation CEO, Graeme Ramsey, says it is difficult to understand how an organisation that has just had a large taxpayer handout on the basis it will support the bloodstock industry wants to undermine that same industry by replacing live horses with virtual ones.
"The only possible reason we can think of is that the Board wants to take more money from their existing customer base" he says.
"The idea of customers spending a few minutes between races without spending money seems too much for the Board to bear.
"This is surprising considering the amount of money already in the industry.  Not only has the Board just received $9 million of tax payers' money, but clubs already take over $21 million of pokie machine money through community grants."
Mr Ramsey is concerned the Board is considering the move to virtual racing when it knows of the link between electronic gaming machines and problem gambling.
"A recent report from the Ministry of Health shows a clear link between the proximity of gaming machines to gamblers and problem gambling. Placing what is basically a form of electronic gaming in every TAB could lead to an increase in gambling problems among their existing customers."
Internal Affairs has indicated that the conditions the Board would have to meet to run virtual races would probably require a law change.
Mr Ramsey says he is concerned a last minute amendment will be added to the review of the Gambling Act which is before Parliament at present.
"We hope we are not going to see politicians lining up to please the wealthy racing industry in an election year."



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