The Department of Internal Affairs

The Department of Internal Affairs

Te Tari Taiwhenua

Building a safe, prosperous and respected nation

 

Clamp-down on pokie grants to trotting clubs


9 November 2009

The Department of Internal Affairs is taking action against three gaming machine societies and seven pokie bars over the funding of four northern harness racing clubs.

Gambling Compliance Director Mike Hill said that a new gambling licence condition will prevent the Lion Foundation, Perry Foundation and Infinity Foundation from granting pokie funds to the Thames Harness Racing Club and the Manukau, Kumeu and Franklin Trotting Clubs. The Department is also proposing to suspend for 21 days the licences of seven pokie venues in which the clubs had invested.

Mike Hill says the proposed action follows an investigation into the grant application process, flow of funds and the relationship between the societies, trotting clubs and Northern Hospitality Management Ltd, which operated at the seven gaming machine venues. Grants to the four clubs totalled about $400,000 up to 2005. Between 2006 and December 2008 they received over $5.4 million.

“We believe the grants are inconsistent with Sections 113 and 118 of the Gambling Act 2003, which makes it clear that decisions about gaming machine grants should be transparent, free from conflicts of interest or conditions,” Mike Hill said. “We are imposing the licence condition under Section 53 of Act to ensure compliance.”

The societies have 15 days to appeal to the Gambling Commission about the new licence condition and one society has already done so. The societies and venues have 20 days to respond to the Department before a final decision on the suspension proposal is taken. They too can appeal to the Commission if the Department does finally decide to suspend the licences.

Mike Hill said the Department will continue to monitor the grants process as part of its regulatory function and looks forward to the Gambling Commission’s decisions.
Media contact:
Mike Hill, Gambling Compliance Director, Department of Internal Affairs
Ph 04 495 9449; cell 021 979 427

Trevor Henry, communications adviser, Department of Internal Affairs
Ph 04 495 7211; cell 0275 843 679