The Department of Internal Affairs

Te Tari Taiwhenua | Department of Internal Affairs

Building a safe, prosperous and respected nation


Services › Casino and Non-Casino Gaming › Information on Charitable Purposes for Operators and Grant Applicants

Societies licensed to operate Class 4 gambling must apply or distribute their net proceeds to authorised purposes.

Under the Gambling Act 2003, authorised purposes mean:

  • charitable purposes;
  • non-commercial purposes beneficial to the whole or a section of the community; and
  • promoting, controlling, and conducting race meetings under the Racing Act 2003, including the payment of stakes.
Societies must grant only to those purposes specified on their licences. Each society must ensure that the authorised purposes specified on its licence are consistent with the purposes and objects in its governing document (e.g. trust deed, constitution or rules).

A number of gaming machine societies are registered under the Charitable Trusts Act 1957, which requires a trust's purposes to be principally or exclusively charitable. Other societies are registered under different Acts (Incorporated Societies or Companies) but have purposes that are charitable.

Distribution of gambling proceeds

Information update - 5 October 2009

Gaming machine operators that distribute gambling proceeds are responsible for ensuring the purposes that grants are made for are consistent with the authorised purposes specified on their licences and with the objects in their governing documents.

While the registration of a grant recipient as a charity may assist in that decision, it is not determinative of the purpose being charitable. An organisation may decide to not register as a charity, but may undertake purposes that are charitable.

Conversely, even if an organisation is registered as a charity, a gaming machine operator that gives money to charitable purposes must ensure that the specific purpose for which funding is sought is a charitable purpose.

Please note that an organisation
does not have to be a registered charity in order to receive gaming machine funding for charitable purposes.

Charitable purposes

Charitable purpose has a special meaning in law. It may include some purposes the public would not consider to be charitable and it may exclude other purposes the public would consider to be charitable.

Charitable purpose generally means: the relief of poverty; the advancement of education; the advancement of religion; or any other matter beneficial to the community (not falling under the previous heads). Not all purposes that benefit the community are recognised as charitable.

The High Court recently provided a useful commentary on charitable purposes in the Travis Trust v Charities Commission (PDF, 73K)* judgement. This document is provided for information only. For legal purposes, please refer to the official court record. The case specifically confirmed that the promotion of horse racing is not a charitable purpose.

The case law summarised in the judgment also referred to amateur sport as not being a charitable purpose in and of itself. However, sport can be the means by which charitable purposes are carried out. The Department recommends that societies and sporting organisations read the discussion of charitable purposes as it relates to sport and recreation organisations on the Charities Commission website.

A society’s trustees are responsible for ensuring that they act in accordance with the purposes and objects outlined in their trust deed. The Department’s responsibility is to ensure that societies are granting to the authorised purposes specified on their licences.

More information:
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