Money that gamblers sink in local pokie machines is funding Waipa District Council projects.

Over seven years Waipa District Council received more than $1 million from five gaming trusts.

The money funded the Lake Karapiro Event Centre ($577,000), Waipuke Access Road ($240,000), Sanctuary Mountain Maungatautari ($150,000), Canoe Racing New Zealand/High Performance Training Centre ($100,000) and the Te Awamutu Museum ($2000), according to a list from the council.

Councils benefiting from pokie money is a practice the Problem Gambling Foundation wants to see come to an end.


The call comes after Hamilton City Council recently voted 8-3 to stop using pokie money to fund projects.

Problem Gambling Foundation chief executive officer Paula Snowden is urging all councils to follow Hamilton's lead.

"We applaud Hamilton City Council's decision. It showed real leadership and integrity. We hope other councils around the country will do likewise."

She says councils benefiting from pokie grants is a conflict of interest.

"Councils have the authority to determine the numbers of pokie machines in their region and given the money these machines generate there is an inherent conflict of interest if councils benefit from grants derived from those same machines."

There are 212 pokie machines in the Waipa district, but the number is capped at 232, according to the Waipa District Council Class 4 Gambling Venue Policy.

Waipa District Council Chief executive Garry Dyet says the council has successfully applied for gaming grants in the past.

"Money from gaming trusts certainly helps reduce the burden on Waipa ratepayers to fund community assets.

"In some instances, it would be difficult to get projects over the line without that money."

There has been no discussion to follow Hamilton's lead and stop using grants, he says.

"If council, in the future, decides to take a different approach, that is something for elected members to discuss and decide."

Mrs Snowden says there is "too much reliance on money from pokies in our communities".

"We acknowledge the worthwhile causes that use pokie funding but it poses an ethical dilemma when the money is coming from pokies that cause so much harm in our communities."

Last year Waipa residents spent $8,149,818.54 on pokie machines.

On average, each person over 18 years in the district spends $232.35 on the machines each year.

From 2009 to 2015 the Waipa District Council received the following grants from gaming trusts:

2009: $100,000 from Lion Foundation for the Lake Karapiro Event Centre, $50,000 from NZ Community Trust for the Lake Karapiro Event Centre, $333,000 from Perry Foundation for the Lake Karapiro Event Centre and $2000 from Skycity Hamilton Community Trust for the Te Awamutu Museum.

2011: $94,000 from Lion Foundation for the Lake Karapiro Event Centre and $240,000 from Lion Foundation for the Waipuke Access Road.

2012: $150,000 from Lion Foundation for Sanctuary Mountain Maungatautari.

2015: $100,000 from Trillian Trust for Canoe Racing New Zealand/High Performance Training Centre.