ORFU refuses to attend pokie talks

One of Dunedin's largest recipients of pokie grants has declined an invitation to a community meeting on ethical funding.

The Otago Rugby Football Union, which has received six-figure grants from pokie trusts, will not attend the community hui, citing it does "not take sides in this or other contentious like topics", in an email to organisers.

Salvation Army Oasis Centre gambling councillor Chris Watkins said it was disappointing some of the largest recipients of grants would not take part in the hui tomorrow, which marks Gamblefree Day.

Mr Watkins acknowledged there was incredible pressure for groups to secure funding, and there was a reluctance to talk publicly about the issue for fear of upsetting funders.

However, representatives from the Dunedin City Council, which received the largest pokies grants for a local body last year, will attend.

Last year the New Zealand Community Trust granted $605,556 for the artificial turf system at the Forsyth Barr Stadium after a request from the council.

Last year $18.8 million was poured into Dunedin pokies, with $7.39 million returned to the community.

In 2008, the Salvation Army made an ethical decision not to accept pokie grants.

The Ethical Funding Forum is organised by the Dunedin Oasis Centre and Te Roopu Tautoko Ki Te Tonga.

Speakers will include Peter Adams, of Auckland University, Sue Russell, of the Dunedin Council of Social Services, and Salvation Army Major Robbie Ross.

The free public event will be held at the Dunedin Public Art Gallery from 5.30pm.




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