Community organizations across New Zealand have benefited via funding available from Gaming Machine Proceeds (GMP), but it may not continue for long. According to the quarterly statistics released by the Department of Internal Affairs (DIA), GMP from Class 4 gambling has increased, but it has its downsides too. The department released the stats on March 1, stating that proceeds increased by $7.9 million for the quarter between September and December 2018. It registered a 3.5% increase compared with the same quarter in 2017.
The final quarter statistics also suggest that the recent trends are continuing from the past months. There are now a fewer number of gaming machines and venues, marking a 2.4 percent decrease year on year. The expenditure on pokies also declined from an average of $242 per head in 2016/17 to $238 per head in 2017/18, upon adjusting for inflation and demographic changes. The funds available to the community are also declining in real terms. In nominal terms, the class 4 revenue declined from $1,027 million to $870 million, marking a 15% decline between 31 March’2004 and 31 December 2017.
Several community groups in New Zealand have to depend on grants from Gaming Machine Trusts and Societies which run their pokie machine proceeds. If there is an increase in available funds, these communities will benefit directly. Last year alone, this class 4 funding brought in a whopping $300 million disbursed across the nation.
The good news is that pokies are continuing to bring their share of return to the community. Pokies in pubs return 44.6%, and clubs return 39%. When taxes are added to these figures, the total community dividend for pokies in pubs is 67.6% and for those in clubs is 60%. The Big Buddy charity is one of the organizations benefiting from the funding. It connects positive male role models with fatherless boys and encourages and supports them as they grow. Another one of these organizations is the Splash Palace Aquatic Centre which provides swimming lessons to all primary school children in Invercargill.
Bruce Robertson, the spokesperson of the Gaming Machine Association of New Zealand, said that generating more funds for the community organizations is a positive thing. However, he said that the average amount spent by a New Zealander on pokies has decreased in real terms. Robertson noted that the reduction in a number of venues and machines is a cause of concern, especially since players are moving from related offline gambling to unregulated online gambling. This has put the survival of several community organizations at risk.