Alea Redacta Est: on pokie profiteers’ poor PR

As I’ve said before, part of my job at Scoop involves copy-pasting the two-or-three hundred press releases that come through every day. A lot of it is drudgery, but occasionally you get public relations gems like this one from the Gaming Technologies Association (not the fun whoosh-bang kind of gaming technologies; the kind where you lose all your money to a pokie machine).

Gaming industry calls for greater recognition

Auckland, New Zealand: It’s time the true contribution of gaming machines to the New Zealand economy was recognised and acknowledged was the message from conference participants at the 2010 New Zealand Gaming Expo.

It continues:

Minister of Revenue and Associate Minister of Health, Hon Peter Dunne told delegates that gaming machine operators needed to continue to find new and better ways to work with communities.

“The whole premise of charity gaming in New Zealand is that the proceeds are returned to the local community. The implicit partnership has always been that gaming machine proceeds were available for distribution for the betterment of local communities.”

Which sounds quite lovely and supportive, but the Gaming Technologies Association seems to have accidentally glossed over a couple of lines. From Dunne’s speech notes (long, but worth the read):

I am coming across a number of community organizations who have sought and been denied registration by the Charities Commission as charities because for one reason or another they do not comply with the provisions of the Charities Commission’s legislation.

When pushed as to why they have sought registration in the first place many have told me that they did not really want to be registered as charities, but only sought registration because local gaming trusts are now saying that they will only make donations to community organizations that are registered with the Charities Commission.

The logic behind this appears that the trusts have taken to heart the criticism over the years by some politicians and others that some of their funding decisions have been questionable, and so have decided that the best way to protect themselves from such criticism in the future is to limit funding to legally registered charities.

Such an outcome was never intended, and has the potential to have a most detrimental effect on community development.

If, for example, the local kids’ football team cannot get a grant from the local trust for a grant for team jerseys or an end of season trip away because the trust will now only fund charities and their sports club is not a charity, and will never be registered by the Charities Commission as such, the situation has clearly become absurd.

The whole premise of charity gaming in New Zealand was that the proceeds would be returned to the local community, and this type of practice is at worst making that impossible, or at best limiting the availability of assistance and support to only a small community pool.

Either way, it is time to stop.

My advice is there is no legal basis to such an approach, and I am therefore calling on those trusts that have adopted this practice to cease doing so, and to get back to the days where community projects, however big or small, were funded on the basis on the merits of the project, not the legal status of the organization seeking funding.

The implicit partnership has always been that gaming machine proceeds were available for distribution for the betterment of local communities.

I hope their arms aren’t too tired after all that cherry-picking.

2 Comments on “Alea Redacta Est: on pokie profiteers’ poor PR”

  1. It would be more interesting if you had included comments from some of the other contributors – after all Peter Dunne (as he is wont to reminisce) still has the pen with which (as Internal Affairs Minister) signed the regulation allowing pokies almost unfettered access to Kiwis’ pocketbooks!

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