Corruption rife in pokie trusts system

NZ Herald 30 June 2012
The former boss of the industry association representing pokie trusts says the system is corrupt and needs total reform. Former Community Gaming Association executive director Francis Wevers said the incentives to take advantage were too powerful. The result was “endemic non-compliance” and “corruption” in a business which had a turnover of $9 billion. About $850 million was distributed to the Government, the community and pokie trusts. The pokie trusts face extinction under a private member’s bill brought by Maori Party MP Te Ururoa Flavell, which would strip the trusts of their powers and create a new system for distributing funding. His proposed bill creates a system where local government would distribute the cash with a focus on making grants to local organisations. The bill has led to pokie trusts organising a revolt among community and sporting organisations, using the spectre of disappearing funding. Mr Wevers said he believed a new system would lead to greater levels of funding going back to the community, though did not believe local government was the right conduit.

He said the flaws in the current system gave the hospitality sector too much power, allowing host pubs to command too much of a share of pokie proceeds under threat of shifting allegiance to other gaming trusts. “Right from the start, the hospitality sector has seen the requirement for money to go back to the community as an imposition.”