The medical officer of health at the Taranaki DHB Jonathan Jarman has described the funds accumulated from pokie machines as “blood money”, even though such funding has been crucial for many sporting organizations. To date, many sports clubs and local community organizations literally rely on money accumulated from pokie machines.
However, Jonathan Jarman, has called for a reduction in the number of poker machines in the district of New Plymouth. The Taranaki DHB medical officer of health unveiled his opinion at a hearing about the gambling venue policy of the district council that took place on Tuesday. Mr. Jarman confessed that sports groups organizations drew benefit from the money that has been transferred to them by trusts funded by pokies, but he also expressed his utter surety that some volunteers at sport groups would not lay their hands on such money.
The problem, according to him, is that some of the sports groups volunteers see such funding as “blood money”. He further said that he did not know if these people would accept such money in case they knew the how serious problems caused by that money had been. Jarman reminded of some tragic incidents associated with gambling-related harm, including of a man who killed himself after stealing some money due to a gambling addiction.
According to him, pokies could be described as the most dangerous form of gambling, as they cause harm not only to players and their families, but also to the wider community. What is even worse, is the fact that in fact the poor communities are the ones that see the largest number of pokies, hence the largest risk of harm.
Pokies Bring Considerable Funding to Community Organizations
Russel Wilson, Chairman of the Taranaki Cricket Association, opposed to Mr. Jarman’s opinion, saying that the funding that was brought to the association from the local pokie trusts was extremely important to its operation. According to him, the pokie trusts funding amounted to a large amount of its total funding. Mr. Wilson evaluated the pokie trusts’ funding as “positive and good” for the industry and said that New Zealand sporting organizations needed the funding.
The truth is that gambling-related harm was one of the most-discussed issues at the hearing, as the wave of disapproval for pokies has been increasing lately.
Recently, New Plymouth’s district council has been considering a proposal aimed to reduce the number of poker machines in Waitara, decreasing their number to 25 from 45. In addition, the council also had to make a decision concerning the number of poker machines in the remaining part of the district, and more specifically, whether to reduce it to 320. The combined number of pokies with Waitara amounted to a total of 345. On the other hand, the number of poker machines in the district of New Plymouth is 369.
Tanya Piejus, spokeswoman of the New Zealand Community Trust (NZCT), revealed that the community gets back approximately NZ$260 million on an annual basis by gaming trusts. She shared that the NZCT alone returned more than $1.1. million to the district of New Plymouth over the 12 months which ended on July 31st 2017, with the money aimed at supporting community, cultural, sports, educational and welfare organizations.