Hamilton City Council wants to see SkyCity Hamilton start following suit of other gambling venues around the country and contribute 40% of its poker machine proceeds to the community.
For the time being, the Victoria St casino contributes only 1.5% of its poker machine profits to the community on an annual basis. This inconsistency has been highlighted by the draft submission made by Hamilton City Council to the Gambling Commission’s upcoming review of casino licence conditions around the country.
Currently, the gambling operators that hold the so-called Class 4 licence, including hotels, clubs and pubs, are legally required to contribute no less than 40% of the proceeds generated by their poker machines to the community. The six casino venues that operate in the country, however, are not obliged to do so.
Now, Richard Briggs, the Hamilton City Council’s chief executive officer, used the aforementioned draft submission to say this practice needs to change. Mr Briggs shared that the Council strongly believes that the 1.5% of poker machine revenue that is currently being contributed by SkyCity Entertainment to Hamilton’s community is extremely disproportionate to the 40% of Class 4 venue operators’ proceeds that are required by law.
Current Situation Led to Community Groups’ “Unhealthy Dependency” on Gambling Funding, City Council Says
This situation with the casino revenue has existed for years, and the Hamilton casino venue is not even the one that makes the smallest contributions. SkyCity casino in Auckland is required to donate only 0.7% of its pokie earnings, which is about NZ$500,000) to its charitable unit.
The Dunedin Casino contributes only 1% of its poker machine turnover (or a maximum of NZ$110,000) to the local community and sports groups, while the Christchurch Casino donates 2.5% of its pokies’ annual net profit or NZ$250,000. According to reports, no less than 2.5% of the pokie net profits (or NZ$100,000) of SkyCity Queenstown is donated every year to the operator’s charitable arm. SkyCity Wharf Casino, on the other hand, gave 20% of its net profit to charity in the first year of its operation and added a further 1% every year until a 30% rate was reached.
As reports show, these figures have been pretty random. This is exactly why the submission of the Hamilton City Council has urged the Gambling Commission to set minimum contribution levels and establish standard rates of charity contributions. Apart from that, the Council has called for the authorities to consider a 40% community return to be set not only for poker machines but for all forms of casino gambling operations.
The Hamilton City Council’s submission reads that the current situation had resulted in what was described as “an unhealthy dependency” on gambling funding for many community groups. This concern has also been shared by the chief executive officer of the Problem Gambling Foundation of New Zealand, Paula Snowden, who backed the Council’s call for stricter contribution rules for local casinos.