Returns from gaming machines returning to pre-Covid levels

Gaming machine trusts are seeing spending levels return to pre Covid-19 levels but there is still uncertainty ahead.

When the country went into lockdown so did all the gaming machine venues, forcing trusts to close for eight weeks with no income.

There was the fear the gaming funders, which contribute about $150 million nationally, would not be able to get back to anywhere near the same funding levels.

Coupled with the inability to keep reserves, it looked bleak for many sporting organisations and other groups which rely on the money from gaming machines to operate.

They provide the tops for team to wear, the balls with which to play and many staff to keep the sport operating.

But the venues started opening up under Alert Level 2 and are now fully back in business.

Southern Trust chief executive Karen Shea said the trust was getting back to pre Covid-19 levels although it was still below the forecast budget.

She was cautiously optimistic but the future was unknown.

It was hard to read what would happen into the future and when the wage subsidy came off.

Grants had started being handed out at alert Level 2 but these were at a limited amounts to start with although this limit has been lifted this week.

She is urging groups and clubs to get their funding applications in.

There has been a change in regulations which has raised the previous limit of the maximum of 40% which must be returned to the community.

There is also no longer a time requirement on grants being made.

A third of the spend goes to tax, the venue operators takes 16%, there are overheads for the trusts and the Department of Internal Affairs also takes a cut to oversee the industry.

Shea said the announcement by the Government this week over assistance to sporting groups would help plug the gap created when no funding took place over the lockdown period.

She said the support for club was crucial and it was centred more around operation costs and salary support.

The extras for jerseys, hoodies and other items was not a priority for many groups.

Another gaming machine trust operator, which declined to be named, confirmed income had bounced back, which had been surprising.

Social distancing meant income was reduced when Level 2 was introduced but it had returned to normal now.

Grants were being allocated and many groups had put in applications.

Sporting clubs still had overheads which did not go away when no sport was being played.

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