A pokies trust which earns nearly half its proceeds from Waikato and Bay of Plenty gamblers is giving most of its grants to groups in Auckland, Green Party gambling spokesperson Denise Roche has revealed.
An analysis of data provided by pokie trusts reveals Nautilus Trust owns pokies in pubs throughout the Waikato and the Bay of Plenty as well as Auckland, but 98 per cent of the grant funds are distributed to Auckland groups - many of them sports organisations
"The Waikato and Bay of Plenty have 44% of Nautilus' 154 pokie machines, but only receive 1.4% of Nautilus' grants," Ms Roche said.
"This shows the urgent need for a different system of pokies funds distribution which ensures that the harm caused to communities by gambling is at least partly rectified by ensuring grant funding is returned to the same community.
"Maori Party MP Te Ururoa Flavell's Gambling Harm Reduction Bill, which the Green Party has supported through its first reading in Parliament, will deliver a fairer distribution system and is a good start towards pokie reform.
"It would ensure at least 80% of the grant funding available from pokie profits is returned to the area they are collected from. The Nautilus case demonstrates exactly why that kind of guarantee is necessary.
"Out of the total 229 grants that Nautilus made, only eight Waikato groups received funding. The rest went to Auckland," said Ms Roche.
"Bay of Plenty groups didn't apply for funding so didn't get any. But funds were still taken out of that community.
"We need to be proactive to ensure pokie funds do not get siphoned from poor communities into wealthier ones, which is a situation we've seen time and again under the current distribution model," Ms Roche said.