Hearing Highlights Concerns of Harm Reduction Bill

New Zealand’s Harm Reduction Bill has gained quite a lot of support thus far – but there were always going to be some concerns. Many of these issues were expressed at a recent hearing for the bill, as organizations stepped forward to voice their concerns.

The Harm Reduction Bill provides local city councils across New Zealand with the ability to limit the number of poker machines that exist in a particular jurisdiction. The bill also aims to increase the amount of money that each poker machine donates to charity, which has been a significant source of the bill’s support thus far.

At the hearing, however, many organizations expressed some concerns about the potential funding scheme. While they support the fact that local councils can limit the number of poker machines, they are wary of the same councils allocating funds. Some organizations are worried that their funding will be significantly cut should this become a provision of the Harm Reduction Bill in New Zealand.

So, it seems as though it is back to the drawing board for the commission. Another hearing will be held later in the year to determine the effectiveness of the amendments.

Council Meeting Highlights Unfairness of Pokies Funding

Auckland council has recently held a meeting discuss poker machine funding. It was an interesting event, as a number of shocking revelations were made, prompting the council to rethink the way in which poker machine grants are awarded.

What left council members most disappointed was that public servants were using $40 000 of machine funding to pay for a ‘rich man’s’ sporting event: The Volvo Ocean Race. Racing of this sort is not considering the type of sport that requires funding from poker machines, with youth leagues and community sports supposedly taking precedent.

The tourism board applied for the funding, highlighting another potential concern. When public servants apply for poker machine funding, they seem to be better equipped to file successful applications than community groups who have less experience with funding.

The meeting also dedicated some time to exploring the moral dilemma faced by some community groups when accepting pokies funding. Half of the organizations that receive funding would not be able to survive without it, but half of respondents also noted that there was a moral dilemma presented by taking money generated by pokies and problem gambling profits. Of those surveyed, only 10% of organizations did not accept poker machine funding.

Nelson Football Won’t Take Pokies Money

The city of Nelson has been working hard to secure a New Zealand Football Club license, giving the city the right to launch two new teams. Mayor Aldo Miccio, who is confident that his city will receive a license, has stated that the clubs will not take money from poker machine profits as funding.

“There will be no funding from pokies,” he says. “There are a number of places where you can apply for grants that aren’t pokies”.

Now seems to be the ideal time to adopt such a stance. Since poker machines could soon be forced to impose limits, sporting clubs and other public programs will suffer from a lack of funding. So, rather than fighting the reforms, Nelson has taken a different approach, simply by looking for funding elsewhere.

Nelson’s potential new football teams are just some of only a few organizations that have refused pokies funding. We hope that this will start a new trend in the gambling market, however. Although pokies grants can be quite generous, it is a good idea to supplement funding with money from other sources – just in case pokies funding is ever cut.

New Zealanders Lose $250 Million on Pokies

In a recent report, it has been revealed that New Zealanders have lost $250 million on poker machines over the course of the last year. This statistics have come as a shock to the local community, especially since Sky City has been granted the right to install 350 to 500 new poker machines in return for building the city’s new convention centre.

The New Zealand Problem Gambling Foundation released these numbers, illustrating that problem gambling is becoming a serious issue in the country’s biggest city. What is more concerning, however, is that only a small portion of the money lost on poker machines is actually pumped back into the community.

According to the report, between $55 million and $95 million is returned to the community, less than 50% of the profits generated by poker machines. Of that, most of the money is presented to sports-related organizations, which receive $21 million in funding. Arts and community services receive less than $5 million combined.

As such, now seems to be the perfect time for the upcoming gambling study. It will examine the social impact of poker machines and poker machine funding for charities, providing some much-needed insight on the market.

Christchurch Pubs Celebrate Being Pokie-Free

When it comes to entertainment in New Zealand, pokies have become a popular form of leisure entertainment and many clubs and pubs depend on the income generated by the machines to cover their operating costs. However, several venues across Christchurch have refused to host pokies as part of a new campaign called ‘Proud to be Pokies-Free’.

Anglican Life and the Problem Gambling Foundation have joined forces to launch the campaign, which celebrates venues that refuse to host pokies. They want to show pub owners that they can be successful without poker machines, and many operators have already jumped on board with the campaign.

“We can rebuild our city without pokie machines,” said National Public Health Manager Tony Milne.

The campaign seems to be especially crucial in a city like Christchurch, which has the chance to rebuild itself. Now is the ideal time to start over, without a dependence on pokies – and Proud to be Pokies-Free aims to make that happen.

Currently, there are just five clubs across Christchurch which support the cause. However, it is likely that more will hop on board in the future.

NZ Gambling Amendment Could Negatively Affect Charities

In the days following the re-introduction of the Gambling Harm Reduction bill, residents and politicians have expressed a great deal of support for the legislation. While most people are caught up in the positive aspects of the bill and what it means for problem gamblers, there are some downsides. Charities across the country are speaking out against the bill, as it has the potential to cut their funding.

In the first reading of the bill, which would give local authorities the power to reduce the number of pokies in their jurisdictions, it was passed by a vote of 83 to 7. It presents a new alternative to gambling reform, and many politicians are on board with the idea.

“I hope that the not-for-profit sector will speak out about this because the community needs our support,” says Kate MacMillion of Riding for the Disabled.

It is a well-known fact that profits from poker machines are used to funding local charities and not-for-profit organizations. Over the course of the past few decades, millions of dollars have been awarded to benefit good causes. Unfortunately, this means that many charities have become dependent on the resource, and will suffer if pokies profits decline.

Palmerston Locals Want to Keep Pokie Numbers Intact

Across the country, it is becoming apparent that gambling addiction is big problem among residents. As such, local politicians in Palmerston are considering the possibility of removing poker machines in order to curb problem gambling rates. A committee was recently assembled to determine the viability of the idea – and some surprising results were uncovered.

Navid Foroutan of the NZ Problem Gambling Foundation has urged local politicians to lower its sinking lid policy cap from 430 pokies in the area to 400. As in many other cities across new Zealand, the lowering of the sinking lid policy cap is meant to reduce the rates of problem gambling.

However, the committee discovered that the public does not back the idea. While some believe that a sinking lid policy would be helpful, the vast majority believe that it would not be effective enough to truly treat gambling addiction problems in the area.

It seems that locals want to maintain the number of poker machines while searching for other ways to deal with problem gambling. Some submissions to the committee were from actual problem gamblers who would like to see more education and counselling programs made available, which would get to the root of the problem gambling issue.