Claire Trevett

Claire Trevett is the New Zealand Herald’s deputy political editor.

Greens pull support from gambling bill

File photo / Jason Dorday
File photo / Jason Dorday

The Green Party has pulled its support for a bill aimed at giving local communities more say over gambling, saying proposed changes will water it down so much that it can not support it any longer.

Maori Party MP Te Ururoa Flavell's Gambling (Gambling Harm Reduction) Bill was reported back from select committee today with significant changes suggested.

The original member's bill aimed to ensure that at least 80 per cent of proceeds from gambling went back into the communities from which they came, and would have allowed local councils, with support from local communities, to reduce or eliminate pokies in areas where there were gambling problems.

It would also have introduced measures to restrict the gambling by known problem gamblers such as player tracking devices and `pre-commitment cards'.

The select committee has put forward changes to the bill including removing the 80 per cent requirement, saying while it supported the principle it would disadvantage national and regional organisations.

Instead it proposed allowing regulations to prescribe allocation rules, taking into account the area in which the proceeds were gathered.

Other changes include watering down the requirement for anti-gambling devices, taking out the power to reduce or ban gambling venues and instead allowing gambling operators to relocate machines to another site. The committee also removed the proposal for local authorities to take over the distribution of pokies funds from current trusts. It also decided against removing racing from the list of organisations which qualify for gaming proceeds.

The Green Party minority report said the changes meant none of Mr Flavell's main aims would be achieved with the select committee changes.

Gambling spokeswoman Denise Roche said it meant the councils which wanted to reduce the number of pokies in their areas would be more restricted, and would mean that the gambling sector would keep control over the distribution of pokies proceeds.

- NZ Herald

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