Pokie money dilemma for charity work

Tess Trotter
Valley Project manager Tess Trotter
A Dunedin community group may have to rethink its no-pokie funding stance after struggling with other fundraising methods.

At the Valley Project's general meeting on June 19 it will discuss with the community whether to accept funding money collected by the gambling machines.

The group operates in the wider North East Valley and its work involves ventures including endorsing livable homes, providing food boxes for families in need and overseeing community gardens.

Its budget is about $215,000 per year.

It has existed in its current form for about 10 years, but for the first five ran largely on Government funding.

It has drawn the line at accepting grants from pokie foundations because of the harm gambling causes to communities, but it does apply for grants from the New Zealand Lotteries Commission.

Valley Project manager Tess Trotter said because of its non-pokie stance she spent a large part of her time applying for funding, which took her away from the core work of the group.

"We've gotten to the stage where we have to reconsider that situation, but we need to do that with a lot of community input."

There were "definitely" differing views on the issue among its 10-member board, she said.

If it did not receive pokie funding it would "definitely" struggle.

The group recently compiled a 100-respondent survey to assess residents' views on the issue.

Of those respondents, 45.1% said they would not mind the group accepting pokies money, 7.7% said the group should not accept such funds and 47.3% said the executive of the group should make the call.

Chairman Steve Tripp said it had made the stand to not accept pokie money, but had not really articulated why it did so.

He thought it could survive without the funding, but there would be a cost to its functions.

Problem Gambling Foundation of New Zealand counsellor Fiona Cambridge, of Dunedin, said the cost of taking money from pokies "far outweighed" the benefits.

"Harmful gambling creates fraud, child neglect.

"These machines target poorer areas where people can't afford to use them in the first place."

About 43% of the money from pokies was redistributed and usually did not go back into the communities they took from.

"A football club in Dunedin might get money from Tauranga, so that's where some of the harm comes from."

About 50% of people who came through her doors did so because of pokie-related problems.

The system which created a reliance on the machines was a "real dilemma".

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