Cash-strapped club forced to rethink moral stand

By Steve Deane

Dean Kini says they're caught between a rock and a hard place. Photo / Sarah Ivey
Dean Kini says they're caught between a rock and a hard place. Photo / Sarah Ivey

The Mt Wellington Warriors league club made a stand against pokie money.

It ripped the machines out of its Thompson Park clubrooms and turned its back on trust grants.

"A lot of the parents can't buy boots for their kids. They are saying they haven't got the money, and that they can't get them to the games because they can't get money for petrol," club chairman Dean Kini said.

"All those problems are associated with gambling and drinking. I didn't want to be a part of the problem."

That was almost five years ago, when the Herald published a story on the club's moral stand. So how did it work out?

"We use the funding, we have applied," says Mr Kini. "There is no other revenue. You're caught between a rock and hard place. At the end of the day the parents are still going down there using the pokie machines, so if you can get funding back from the places they go to, indirectly you are getting the money back."

There simply weren't any other revenue sources out there. Bar takings are way down, sponsorship is non-existent, and parents still won't fork out any money for playing fees.

"You just don't get no help from no one," says Mr Kini. "We are only a small club and it costs us $20,000 to $30,000 to buy jerseys and things like that."

The club faced a stark reality - take the trust money or go bust.

"We stopped it. We took the pokies out of the club. We took that stance but you just can't survive without assistance from the charitable trusts.

"People say 'it comes from problem gamblers - don't use it'. That's easy to say. Who is going to pay for all the jerseys and equipment? They're not."

So Mr Kini's hand was forced. The way he sees it, the money is effectively coming from the parents anyway, although only 37.2 per cent of what they spend on pokies is returned to the community through the trusts.

These days, periodic detention workers provide labour at the club. "I have to be there every Saturday and Sunday to manage them, but that is the only way the club gets painted and cleaned, people doing their community service."

- NZ Herald

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