A community group in the city of Dunedin, New Zealand, may have to reconsider its policy of not taking poker machine funding after facing some difficulties with other fundraising methods.
The issue is set to be discussed at the general meeting of the Valley Project which is scheduled for June 19th. The community would have to decide whether to start accepting funding money collected by the gambling machines. The community group has existed in its current form for about a decade, being largely dependent on Government funding for the first five years. For the time being, it has an annual budget of approximately NZ$215,000. It operates in the wider North East Valley and is engaged with providing food boxes and homes for families in need, as well as with overseeing gardens in the community.
Previously, the community group has refused to accept grants from gambling machine operators because pokies have been blamed for the harm they cause to communities. Still, it applies for funding from the New Zealand Lotteries Commission.
Tess Trotter, Valley Project manager, confessed that she finds it difficult to find enough funding because of the community group’s non-pokie funding policy. She also commented that things have gotten to a stage where the group would be forced to reconsider the situation and this is something which has to be done with the community’s blessing.
Recent Survey Shows Many Local People Do Not Mind Pokie Fundings
As Ms Trotter has explained, the opinions of the 10-member board differ, but the truth is that the group would struggle financially in case it did not apply for poker machine funding.
The community group has already taken steps to assess local residents’ opinions on the matter, by commissioning a special survey among 100 respondents. The results of the research showed that almost half of the people who had taken part in the survey (45.1%) would not mind if the group started accepting funding from poker machines. The largest part of the respondents, a total of 47.3%, believe it is the group’s Chief Executive Officer who should make the decision. The remaining 7.7% of the respondents said that the group should not accept pokie funding.
According to Chairman Steve Tripp, it would be possible for the group to survive without accepting money from poker machines, but this would certainly affect its functions.
Fiona Cambridge, a counsellor at the Problem Gambling Foundation of New Zealand, believes that the cost of accepting money from pokes would be far larger than the benefits. She reminded that poker machines have long been associated with the harm they bring to communities, including fraud, money laundering, child neglect, etc. Apart from that, she said that about 43% of the money generated from the controversial poker machines were not usually returned to the communities they are derived from.