Casino charity efforts in the sights of the Gambling Commission

For many years, New Zealand casinos have set aside a portion of their profits to assist those in need. The Gambling Commission is now reviewing these charitable arms to see if they, too, require changes.

As part of its new licence, Christchurch Casino is required to donate a certain amount of money to charity each year. Except for Christchurch Casino, the exact percentage varies depending on the casino and has not changed since it was first imposed in 2009. Because their 15-year licence expired in December 2018, they are now required by law to give at least 2.5 percent or $250,000 per year, whichever is greater, to charitable organisations – which council officials say they are still working out how to do going forwards under the Gambling Commission’s review process.

Mayor Hawkins has called for a more consistent level of community funding from casinos and trusts in order for them to become fully independent. He proposed that licence holders be denied control over significant aspects such as management decisions or trustee board appointments.”

Every year, the Dunedin Casino donates at least $110,000 to community and sports groups, whereas Auckland’s SkyCity casino only donates a maximum of $500,000. The council had no comment on the matter because it does not regulate casinos in any way.

SkyCity Hamilton donated at least 1.5% of its revenue to charity, whereas SkyCity Queenstown Casino donated either 2.5 percent or $100,000 per year (depending on which is greater). The Wharf Resort casino also matched the generosity and donations of their sister resort, donating 20% the first year it opened and an additional percentage each year until it reached 30%.

“The Queenstown Lakes District Council is already preparing a submission for the proposed changes,” a spokesman said.

What are your thoughts on this?

SkyCity has declined to comment.

The head of the Problem Gambling Foundation was perplexed as to why this review is being prioritised over harm reduction and ensuring that casinos are delivering effective host responsibility programmes. “Why [is] using gambling money to fund charities creating dependency?” she asked.

Gambling is a vicious, self-centred beast that preys on the poor and those in need. It’s past time to put a stop to it once and for all.

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