|Denise Roche MP|
Community and sporting groups in Northland stand to benefit by nearly $10 million annually if a new Bill currently before Parliament is supported, Green Party gambling spokesperson Denise Roche said today.
The Gambling (Gambling Harm Reduction) Amendment Bill is a Private Members Bill put forward by MP Te Ururoa Flavell, which was supported by 85 votes to 7 at its first reading in April. The Bill will require councils to set up independent committees to distribute funds from the pokie industry.
“Pokie trusts operating in Northland only return an average of 39% of the $26 million lost annually into their pokie machines back to the community,” said Ms Roche.
"The rest is used by the pokie trusts for admin costs, including directors' fees, or goes back to the government in GST and levies.
"The new Bill will change this situation, requiring a higher rate of return of 80% to the local community, or almost $21 million annually in Northland’s case.
“Pub Charity, one of the two largest pokie trusts in Northland, returned only just over the legal minimum of 37.12% of money lost in its pokie machines to community and sporting groups,” said Ms Roche.
"Pub Charity alone would have to hand over about $4 million extra a year to Northland groups if the Flavell Bill goes through.”
"Pokies are the most harmful form of gambling, but as we recognise they will be around for some time, it is vital that any benefits gained offset harm they cause in the communities affected.”
Ms Roche was also pleased that the proposed legislation would clamp down on pokie money being recycled into the gambling industry via donations to support horse-racing and would introduce systems on pokie machines designed to reduce addiction problems.
Submissions on the Gambling (Gambling Harm Reduction) Amendment Bill to the Commerce Select Committee close on 21 June, with hearings expected to be around August. The Green Party supports the Bill.