Gambling bill watered down

Dominion Post 17 June 2013
A bill aimed at reducing the negative side effects of gambling has been heavily watered down.

Maori Party MP Te Ururoa Flavell’s Gambling Harm Reduction Amendment Bill was reported back from the commerce select committee today.

But many of the original changes have been cut back, with the Greens suggesting the bill had been “hamstrung” by vested interests.

The original bill intended to ensure the proceeds from poker machines were returned to the communities where they were made. That would have given local authorities more control over gambling operations.

The committee did away with the planned 80 per cent return of proceeds to the local community.

Instead, amendments would allow for regulations to prescribe the distribution of proceeds based on the geographical area of the pokies.

“As long as national or regional organisations are not disadvantaged,” the committee said in its report.

The committee also ruled out imposing the use of pre-commitment, player tracking, or other harm-minimisation devices.

“We believe it would be premature to mandate specific approaches.”

And it ruled out forcing territorial authorities to review Class 4 licenses every three years, saying it would be “unduly expensive”.

It also ruled out removing horse racing from the list of charitable purposes that could receive money from the proceeds of gambling, saying they were nonprofit organisations which provided facilities to community groups at low or no cost.

“We consider the removal of funding would have an adverse effect on communities and racing-related economic activity.” Labour reserved its decision on supporting the bill.