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Social agencies biggest losers in stacked race

Press Release: Social agencies biggest losers in stacked race

November 9, 2012

A mentoring organisation that has lost funding in the racing industry takeover of pokie machines says community organisations are the big losers in a stacked race.

“It’s just not a fair race anymore,” says Big Buddy CEO Richard Aston. “When these machines were being operated by the Trusts Charitable Foundation, we used to get approximately $20,000 in Wellington. That will be reduced to nothing under the racing industry’s watch.”

After a series of damning audit reports, the previous owners of the pokie machines – now called the Trusts Community Foundation – was forced to restructure and sell the machines. They were bought by the New Zealand Racing Board after it was granted a Class 4 gambling licence.

The takeover is expected to strip nearly $20million out of community and sporting groups.

“This move flies in the face of the social contract that is supposed to ensure a fair percentage of gaming machine proceeds go back into communities,” says Richard Aston. “How Racing Minister Nathan Guy and Internal Affairs Minister Chris Tremain sanctioned this is beyond me.”

“I fully support Green Party co-leader Metiria Turei and Maori party MP Te Ururoa Flavell’s calls for a review of this decision. Quite frankly, it doesn’t make social sense and it smacks of cronyism.”

Richard Aston says social agencies like Big Buddy, which matches well-screened male volunteer male mentors with fatherless boys, have stoically weathered the Recession but are tiring of funding cutbacks.

“We’ve all kept scratching around like headless chickens for funding to keep providing much-needed social services. What we need is for the Government to play its part by not helping commercial enterprises like the racing industry make bigger profits at our expense.”

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