Pokie trusts accused of misusing community cash

NZ Herald 6 June 2012
Pokie charities have been accused of using money meant for community projects to oppose a proposed law change which threatens their survival.

A complaint has been lodged with the Department of Internal Affairs asking if gaming trusts were legally entitled to spend money to oppose a bill which seeks to reform the gaming industry.

The gaming sector’s lobbying has had an effect on senior Cabinet ministers, said Maori Party MP Te Ururoa Flavell, who drafted the bill.

Mr Flavell’s private member’s bill would strip power from the gaming trusts which dominate the $700 million pokie industry in pubs and clubs.

It would put power to distribute the $300 million available to community groups in the hands of local authorities, wiping out the current funding bodies.

The bill also aims to increase harm prevention measures and to increase the amount of money returned to communities which host pokie machines.

The gaming trusts which distribute grants have been organising meetings and started an online campaign seeking support to overturn Mr Flavell’s bill.