Rugby: Otago bid for pokie funding from Auckland bars

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Pokie machines. Photo / APN
Pokie machines. Photo / APN

The troubled Otago Rugby Union tried to set up its own trust to feed pokie profits from Auckland bars to Carisbrook, it has been revealed.

Documents obtained by the Otago Daily Times under the Official Information Act show the union was involved in a bid to get a pokie licence in 2003, via the Murrayfield Sports Trust.

Internal Affairs declined the application in late 2004 after expressing concerns over the influence the union had over the trust, which was set up to distribute pokie funds.

The trust was set up to distribute pokie profits from three Auckland bars - in Manurewa, Pt Chevalier and the central city - known collectively as the "Jokers Group", bought via a company with strong links to the union.

"Notwithstanding the elaborate arrangements that have been set up, we believe [the union] is the beneficial owner of, and has the ability to exert significant influence over, the various entities, including the Jokers sites," an Internal Affairs decision noted.

Under the proposal, the trust would distribute 80 per cent of pokie profits to amateur Otago rugby. The rest would go to other charities.

Auckland lawyers sent submissions on behalf of the trust but Internal Affairs refused a licence.

It remains unclear who was behind the trust and the purchase of the three bars, which have since changed hands.

The ODT understands after the trust failed to get a licence the Jokers bars were changed to another trust - the Trusts Charitable Foundation.

A $200,000 fall in budgeted pokie grants was identified as a major funding shortfall for the union, which faces liquidation.

- Otago Daily Times

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