NZ Gambling bill has big racing implications

08:11 AM 07 Mar 2012 NZDT
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Harness Racing New Zealand believes the Gambling (Gambling Harm Reduction) Amendment Bill which is before Parliament will have major implications for the entire New Zealand racing industry.

The Harness Racing New Zealand document said that from a racing perspective key features and aspects of the Bill are:

Proposal to remove racing as an authorised purpose on the basis grants to the racing industry are inconsistent with the community benefit tenor of the rest of the Gambling Act.

Under this racing would lose access to all gaming grant funding including the gaming proceeds from the NZRB Class 4 gaming activities.

Racing is clearly not seen in the same light as other sporting organisations and the fact racing venues are home to a range of community services and activities is not taken into account.

Will enable local authorities in consultation with their communities to reduce or even eliminate poker machines from the suburbs. More controls to limit and control gambling behaviour, through player tracking and pre-commit cards.

Requirement that at least 80% of gambling machine proceeds are distributed within the geographic community in which the gaming venue is located.

Existing Gaming Trusts are to be phased out with responsibility passing to special committees of local authorities.

HRNZ in conjunction with NZ Thoroughbred Racing, Greyhound Racing NZ and the NZ Racing Board (NZRB) has developed a lobbying strategy around outlining why racing clubs should continue to be allowed to apply for gaming grants.

At the meeting the Board considered this issue and noted that a national lobbying campaign is to be applied involving industry stakeholders meeting with their local MPs in a similar process to that adopted in 2009 when the industry combated the Green Party proposed SOP.

A briefing paper has been developed which will be provided to every politician and will also be available to clubs, kindred bodies and industry participants to assist in this process. It is also intended that detailed submissions will also be made to the select committee on this issue.

Meanwhile, New Zealand's Racing Minister Nathan Guy didn't respond to Harnesslink's request for comment, but Labour' spokesman on racing, Ross Robertson said that if the Bill is referred to Select Committee, it is vital that all those concerned take part in the democratic process and make their views known via submissions.

"The proposed reduction in the number of pokies and the changes to the charitable status for racing and racing stake money are important issues that need to be debated.

"Labour will support the Bill to the Select Committee to enable this debate to be heard. I encourage stakeholders to ensure that their voices are heard as part of this debate," Robertson said.

The Bill could end up before Parliament's select committee as soon as March or April 2012.

By Duane RANGER (editor)

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