Sports clubs and community groups are being urged to have their say at the upcoming Western Bay of Plenty District Council gambling venue policy review.

Clubs and community groups currently receive about $2.57 million a year from the gaming machines located in the district's 11 gaming venues.

The gaming funding generated is used to support sports clubs such as Te Puke Cricket Club, Te Puke Gymsport, and Canoe Slalom NZ; community organisations such as Katikati Theatre; local schools including Omokoroa No 1 School, Te Puke High School and Matahui Road School; and even the local volunteer fire brigade.

Bruce Robertson. Photo / Supplied
Bruce Robertson. Photo / Supplied

Bruce Robertson, representing a gaming industry group, said although these organisations find the funding extremely valuable, there was little publicity around the benefit that came from gaming grants.

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Robertson urged community groups to make a submission to council detailing what they had been able to achieve with the funding obtained.

Submissions can be made on the policy by clicking the say it link on the home page of the Western Bay of Plenty District Council's website. Submissions close 18 April 2019.

Robertson's own submission asked the council to retain the current gaming machine cap that allowed for a small amount of additional growth, given the significant measures that were now in place to minimise the harm from gaming machines and the high demand for community funding.

Robertson's submission also asked council to retain the existing relocation provisions that enabled gaming venues to move to new, modern premises, to move to buildings that had a higher earthquake rating, and to move if the current landlord was imposing unreasonable terms.

Robertson warned that erosion of the community funding infrastructure was leading to more and more grant applications being declined, due to a lack of available funds for distribution.

The New Zealand National Gambling Study: Wave 3 (2014) noted that the problem gambling rate had remained the same over the previous 10-15 years, despite gaming machine numbers decreasing.

Robertson also warned that any further reduction in the local gaming machine offering might also lead to a migration of the gambling spend to offshore internet- and mobile-based offerings.

While it was illegal to advertise overseas gambling in New Zealand, it was not illegal to participate in gambling on an overseas-based website or mobile phone application.

Robertson commented that offshore-based online gambling posed considerable risks because it was highly accessible, being available 24 hours a day from the comfort and privacy of your home.

In contrast to gaming venues, offshore-based online gambling did not generate any community funding for New Zealanders, no tax revenue was generated for the New Zealand Government, and no contributions were made to problem gambling treatment providers via the problem gambling levy.

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