Gaming funds are a big part of local communities in New Zealand, funding anything from sports clubs to arts programmes. The profits from pub pokies are used to fund parks and sporting events, but a very small fraction goes to those who truly need it. Problem gambling in New Zealand affects around 80 000 Kiwis in 2017.
The federal government launched a review in 2016 as part of an effort to gauge the sustainability of pokie machines in pubs. Over 750 submissions were made by the public, and will be studied by the government this month. The next steps will then include minimising harm and creating transparency as to where funds go.
Addiction Help Receives Less Gaming Funds
Roughly 42 percent of gaming funds goes to community organisations across New Zealand. While only 1.3 percent goes to problem gambling addiction support. In a country with over 80 000 addicts suffering from gambling problems, this is a tough pill to swallow. The second biggest chunk of funding, around 14 per cent, benefits sports groups.
Community groups and health education also benefit the most from the NZ$737 million lost at private club pokie machines. Pub pokies are the largest contributor to community funding, according to independent studies.
Foundations Operate Pokie Machines
While trusts like the New Zealand Community Trust, the Lion Foundation and Pub Charity Limited help communities, they also operate pub pokies. The funds from these machines are used to aid communities less than 5 km away from the pubs. However, an independent study of these machines found that 101 of 102 venues failed to recognise and help people with clear signs of gambling addiction.
Mary Ansell, CEO of StarJam, has stated: “Problem gambling is an issue. We trust that the pub charities are doing what they are legally bound to do.” Unfortunately, pub charities are falling short of their legal obligations to Kiwi players. This is what stemmed the need for reviewing the current gaming funds’ benefits. Gaming funds make up a large part of community funding, but not many people are ethically okay with using these funds. Awareness is key for New Zealanders to make use of these funds properly, and to help those who need it most.
Moving forward with gaming funds
Once all of the submissions and data have been reviewed, the government will review legislation and regulations for pub charities. It is hoped that charities will also be required to check on regular players to make sure they are okay. Until then, take a look at our casino guide for tips on limiting problem gambling. Should you, or anyone you care about, be showing symptoms please use the contact details below.