Monday, June 17, 2013


The Commerce Committee has reported back on Te Ururoa Flavell's Gambling (Gambling Harm Reduction) Amendment Bill. But while they've recommended that it be passed with amendments, the bill has basically been gutted, turned from a tool to reduce gambling harm to one to increase it.

As originally drafted, the bill would have required that gambling profits be distributed in the communities they were extracted from, rather than given to rich people's "charities" at the other end of the country; eliminated corrupt "pokie trusts" and given the job of distributing funds to elected local authorities; prohibited the use of gambling proceeds to fund racing and racing stakes (i.e. more gambling); allowed local authorities to impose tighter restrictions in specific suburbs; and required the use of tracking technology to show users how much they had lost. The amended bill does none of these things. Instead, it allows pokie operators to circumvent existing legislation by allowing grandfathered sites (which are allowed more than the current cap of nine machines) to retain their licence if they relocate. Oh, the government will gain the ability to regulate around profits and player-tracking technology, but that's not the same as a statutory requirement.

These amendments were imposed by the National majority on the committee. The conclusion? That party is the bought-and-paid-for servant of the gambling industry. They are not interested in eliminating pokie corruption (because it is their mates doing it, stealing money from the poor to pave their own driveways and support their own hobbies).

Meanwhile, the Labour Party did not issue a minority report on the bill, and instead "reserve[d] its position". Clayton Cosgrove was on the committee. Clayton Cosgrove was also in SkyCity's corporate box last week. You can draw your own conclusions from that.