An increase in gaming machine proceeds (GMP) from class 4 gambling (pokies) will help keep vital funding available to community organisations across New Zealand, says the Gaming Machine Association of New Zealand (GMANZ).
Quarterly statistics released by the Department of Internal Affairs (DIA) on 1 March 2019 show that GMP increased by $7.9 million (3.5%) for the quarter September to December 2018, compared with the same period in 2017.
The final quarter statistics reflect a continuation of recent trends, alongside a decrease in the number of gaming machines and venues, with there now being 2.4 per cent fewer pokie machines compared to the same period in the previous year. When adjusted for demographic changes and inflation, the expenditure on pokies declined from an average of $242 per person in 2016/17 to $238 per person in 2017/18.
This continues an ongoing decline in real terms of the funds available to the community. In nominal terms, between 31 March 2004 and 31 December 2017 class 4 revenue declined from $1,027 million to $870 million (-15%).
Many community groups across New Zealand rely on grants from the gaming machine trusts and societies who manage pokie machine proceeds and will benefit from the increase in available funds. Last year over $300 million in class 4 funding was redistributed throughout New Zealand. Pokies continue to provide the greatest return to the community with pokies in pubs returning 44.6% and clubs 39%. When you add in taxes the total community dividend is 67.6% for pubs and 60% for clubs.
Examples of organisations whose programmes have been enabled by such grants include: the Splash Palace Aquatic Centre, which provides swimming lessons to all primary school children in Invercargill; and the Big Buddy charity, which matches fatherless boys with positive male role models who support and encourage them as they grow into young men.
“More funds being generated for worthwhile community organisations and projects is a positive outcome” says GMANZ spokesperson, Bruce Robertson. “The average amount each New Zealander is spending on them annually is decreasing, in real terms.
“The reduction in the number of machines and venues is of some concern, however, as players are driven from the safe and regulated gaming venue environment into the world of unregulated online gambling, with no safeguards or provision of community funding. The survival of many important community organisations and activities is put at risk,” says Bruce.
GMANZ gaming machine trusts and societies aim to provide safe, fun environments for those who choose this form of entertainment. Continued commitment to robust harm minimisation measures, including the introduction of new technologies, is undertaken to help those few players experiencing problems.