New Zealand: casino charity requirements to be reviewed

Casinos in New Zealand are required to provide a certain level of funding to their charitable trust.
Casinos in New Zealand are required to provide a certain level of funding to their charitable trust.

The New Zealand Gambling Commission is analysing casino charity requirements as some casino operators are currently giving away less than 1 per cent of their profits annually.

New Zealand.- Casinos’ charity requirements are to be reviewed by the New Zealand Gambling Commission, which has noted that some casino operators give only 0.7 per cent of their profits to charity.

The commission requires the operators of the country’s six casinos to make minimum contributions to an independent charitable trust, which they are required to support as part of their licensing conditions.

However, the requirements vary for each casino and with the exception of Christchurch Casino have not been reviewed since they were first introduced.

Christchurch Casino pays at least 2.5 per cent of its annual net profit or NZ$250,000, whichever was greater.

Dunedin mayor Aaron Hawkins said that Dunedin Casino paid at least NZ$52,000 a year to an organisation that provides funding for problem gambling treatment. It also gave 1 per cent of gaming machine turnover (up to a maximum of NZ$110,000) to community and sports groups.

SkyCity Queenstown Casino donated nearly 2.5 per cent of its net profit and SkyCity Hamilton 2 per cent of its revenue.

As for Auckland’s SkyCity casino, it gave away just 0.7 per cent of its earnings, or a minimum of NZ$500,000.

Wharf Casino donated 20 per cent and added 1 per cent for each year of operations until it reached 30 per cent.

The proportion of donations contrasts with those required of the operators of pokies in pubs and clubs, which are required to give away around 40 per cent of their proceeds as community grants.

The casino charity requirement review was criticised by Andree Froude at the Problem Gambling Foundation, who said the New Zealand Gambling Commission should focus on ensuring casinos are delivering effective responsibility programmes.

According to Stuff newspaper, she said: “Using gambling money to fund charities created a cycle of reliance, which happened with class four gambling (pokies in pubs, clubs and TABs).

“No amount of charity makes up for the harm caused by gambling, and we need to focus on where the money is coming from, often the most vulnerable in our society, and not where it is going.”

In April, the Auckland University of Technology carried out a study to analyse the behaviour of people with gambling addiction problems, finding they tend to pull away from community groups.

The study found that people with gambling addictions have a poorer quality of life and weak health. They also tend to experience stressful life situations. The study found that people who resolve addiction problems see an improvement in their health.

Last year the National Institute for Health Innovation launched an app called Manaaki to help people cut back on gambling. The app, which is being tested, aims to help users control urges to gamble and to give players the feeling they can change.

In March, the Department of Internal Affairs revealed that spending on pokies (slot machines) had reached NZ$252m (US$178m) in the period from October to December 2020, the highest quarterly spend since the Department of Internal Affairs began keeping records in 2007

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GAMBLING REGULATION land-based casino