The viability of provincial pubs with poker machines and
resulting grants for their communities is under threat as the
Government considers reforming the sector, industry
This week, Internal Affairs Minister Peter Dunne said changes
would include more money being returned to the community,
more enforcement on dishonest activity, and a reduction in
Under the changes, non-club gaming machine trusts - which
operate poker machines in pubs and bars - would be required
to distribute more gambling proceeds back to the community.
The sector returned $260 million to the community each year,
but this figure was projected to increase by $10 million
under the changes, Mr Dunne said.
However, poker machine operators spoken to by the Otago
Daily Times said increasing the minimum returned to the
community from the current rate of 37.12% to 42% in five
years would affect the viability of small venues.
Small venues in non-metropolitan areas lacked the customers
to match the returns of their big city cousins.
One industry source said it cost the same amount to run a
poker machine in Central Otago as it did in South Auckland,
but the latter machine would generate 10 times more proceeds.
''It will be detrimental to small communities and their
Southern Trust chief executive Karen Shea, of Dunedin, said
smaller venues ''are really going to struggle and I would say
to (Internal Affairs) 20% of something is better than
''If it gets too tight then societies will have to cut those
venues because they won't be viable.''
New Zealand Community Trust chief executive Mike Knell said:
''From our perspective we can get to 42% but it may mean that
we shred more and less profitable venues and look at exiting
''You need to be careful that you don't wish for a higher
percentage that can equate to less dollars distributed.''
His trust largely supported the reforms, but the ''devil was
in the detail''.
Hospitality Association chief executive Bruce Robertson said
the minister's move was concerning because ''societies would
be first to drop those sites as they are not effective''.
''The minister is saying he expects there to be more money
available to the community but, in fact, the reverse might be
Mr Dunne told the ODT that while it was possible the
viability of some venues could be under pressure, ''the
decline in venue numbers would have to be significant to
cause a net reduction in community funding''.
''My officials will closely monitor the sector over the
five-year transition period,'' he said.