Pokie payment change ‘giant leap backwards’

NZ Herald 26 May 2014
A new commission structure for pubs with pokie machines is being condemned by anti-gambling lobbyists as “a giant leap backwards”.

The move to a commission system, announced by Internal Affairs Minister Peter Dunne last week, overturns a clause of the 2003 Gambling Act that prohibited commission payments for pokie operators because they would give publicans an incentive to promote gambling.

Instead, publicans and other venue operators have only been allowed to claim “actual, reasonable and necessary costs” up to a maximum of 16 per cent of their pokie proceeds.

Former Problem Gambling Foundation chief executive John Stansfield, who lobbied for the current law back in 2003, said some venues before then were receiving commissions that were “wildly outside costs”.

“I found a pub in South Auckland that was getting $500,000 a year from pokies,” he said.

Investigation affects funding to racing
Otago Daily Times 26 May 2014
Millions of dollars of pokies cash has stopped flowing into the coffers of the racing industry as a major joint agency investigation unfolds.

Last year, Operation Chestnut was launched by the Department of Internal Affairs, the Serious Fraud Office and police into the alleged manipulation of $30 million of gaming grants.

The investigation involves several trusts named previously by the Otago Daily Times as the New Zealand Community Trust (NZCT), Bluegrass, and Infinity Foundation.

Those trusts have previously granted large sums to the racing industry, including Southern racing interests, but since confirmation of the investigation, some have pulled back their funding.

Figures released to the ODT show between 2005 and 2014, more than 50 charitable trusts had pumped $130 million in the racing industry; from a high of $23 million in 2009, to $7.5 million last year.