Social sports teams rather than problem gamblers will take the hit from a proposed crackdown on pokie trusts, community groups warn.
The winners and losers of the gambling industry debated pokie reform in Auckland yesterday.
It came the same day a couple who left their five children in a van at the SkyCity car park while they gambled appeared at Auckland District Court.
While the couple stood before a judge, across town in a hotel conference room, sports teams, pub owners and trust bosses voiced their opinions on trusts before Parliament's Commerce Committee.
Maori Party MP Te Ururoa Flavell's Gambling Amendment Bill aims to clean up the pokie trust industry and combat problem gambling.
If passed the Bill would shift the responsibility for distributing pokie proceeds from trusts to local authorities.
It would also force the return of 80 per cent of gambling proceeds to the community they came from.
However, it found little favour with sports teams and community groups who relied on trust grants.
Netball NZ chief executive Raelene Castle said the proposed law change would hurt social sports teams and narrow opportunities at elite level.
''There will be a significant impact on New Zealand and an increase in the cost of participation in sports.''
One of the key players in gambling proceeds called for reform to reduce the number of trusts, rather than shifting the funding power to local authorities.
Lions Foundation chief executive Phil Holden said this would deliver more cash to the community and save the Government millions in compliance costs.
But the proposed law change found favour with those who have been burnt by pokies.
Former gambler Margaret Swan said the huge profits generated from pokie machines and lack of transparency is blurring the line between charity and business.
"This bill will help clear some of the cobwebs that have accumulated."
She backed gambling reform to bring greater transparency to trusts.
Problem gambling support groups also threw their support behind a law change, with some raising concerns that casino and pub owners are failing to take responsibility for problem gambling.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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