The Government should reject attempts by the hospitality industry to profit from pokie machines as it would create a perverse incentive for bar owners to encourage problem gambling, the Green Party said today.
Hospitality New Zealand has released its plan to lobby for a change in gambling law to allow its members to take a 16 per cent profit off pokie machines and remove the requirement that 37 per cent of takings be returned to community groups.
"Currently pub and restaurant owners who don't own pokie machines are allowed to be compensated for any expenses incurred by hosting them, but they can't make a profit off them," Green Party gambling spokesperson Denise Roche said.
"But if hosts were allowed to make a commission on the machine's proceeds, they would be incentivised to encourage more gambling, much of which is likely to be come from problem gamblers.
"I am also concerned by the suggestion that the current requirement for 37.12 per cent to be distributed back to the community be scrapped in favour of a cap on society expenditure.
"This seems to suggest that community groups would be given what's left over, if anything, once the pub owner, and gaming trust have clipped the ticket, when the Gambling Act is really clear that the purpose of this type of gambling is to create funds for community organisations.
"Pokies are the most dangerous form of gambling around. We need strong law, that's effectively monitored, to keep people safe from the effects of problem gambling.
"The Green Party rejects any move that would weaken gambling law, whether that's incentivising pub owners to encourage more gambling, or changing the law so SkyCity can have more pokie machines in exchange for a convention centre for Auckland," Ms Roche said.