Spot prizes in gun

KERRY GALLAGHER
Last updated 07:37 30/10/2012
fishing club

IN DOUBT: A question mark hangs over fishing contest sport prizes. Pictured are Warkworth Game Fish Club Honda 10kg tournament winners Carl Arthur with a 10.2kg snapper, Gavin Smith and Steve Wong Kam.

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A crackdown on spot prizes in fishing contests has gone down like a lead sinker.

The Internal Affairs Department has targeted spot prizes at fishing competitions, labelling them a form of gambling.

Some of the biggest fishing competitions have been put on hold after organisers received notices warning that any spot prizes over $5000 require a licence, which only non-commercial organisations can get.

And that is just for "class 2" gambling. In the case of "class 1", the limit is $500.

The crackdown comes after a complaint from a pokies trust, which claimed its business was suffering from spot prize giveaways at other events.

Mangawhai Boating and Fishing Club president Trevor Downey says spot prizes and pokies have nothing in common and are not competing.

"How many fishing clubs have pokie machines?" he says.

"I can't see where they're coming from. There's no harm in it. The prizes are usually gifted to the club and there's no money changing hands."

Omaha-based Hynds Short Lineouts Charity Fishing Competition organiser Sam Ryburn says the competition will not be greatly affected.

The major prize at the upcoming Hynds competition is for the average weight snapper, rather than spot prizes. But some giveaways may have to be "reallocated" to competitive categories.

"What they are saying is that people addicted to gambling will be entering these competitions to win big prizes, but they don't," Mr Ryburn says.

"Everybody who buys a ticket to our competition - they always fish. It's quite ridiculous."

Mr Ryburn sympathises with some other competitions that will suffer, particularly the Ruakaka-based Beach and Boat event.

That competition boasts $220,000 worth of spot prizes, including a boat and a car, and a $100,000 prize for catching a special tagged snapper.

The Internal Affairs Department says it's working with the contest organiser to help with compliance.

Ticket sales have been put on hold.

Competition contestants are unimpressed.

One prize-winning Warkworth angler has labelled it "crazy".

In 2004, Warkworth rigging operator Lionel Woodall had a massive win at the Snapper Classic but his reward was of his own making.

His 8.96 kilogram snapper was the biggest catch in the 23 years of the competition and earned him $53,000.

He has never won a spot prize but says that if one was not on offer, he might reconsider entering the competition.

Mr Woodall says it is expensive to enter a competition and spot prizes give most anglers at least a chance of getting something back.

A ticket to the Snapper Classic is $250 but it also means accommodation and a week off work. Mr Woodall says it costs him about $1000 for the week and he treats it like an annual holiday.

Meanwhile, responses on an online forum at fishing. net.nz suggest growing discontent with the crackdown.

"What a load of complete and unadulterated s... . The world is going mad," is one response from Whitianga.

Another from Manukau wrote: "Obviously someone has got too much time on their hands to think up a reason to target such events."

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There are fears the spot prize crackdown might extend to other events unrelated to fishing.

Internal Affairs gambling compliance director Debbie Despard says spot prizes are still possible for a wide range of events but they have to be awarded according to the law.

Spot prize draws accompanying entry fees involve "chance" and are therefore gambling under the Gambling Act, she says.

There are three classes of gambling governing the operation of prize draws. Class 1 covers the likes of office sweeps where prizes or turnover do not exceed $500 and all the profit goes in prizes.

These may be conducted by individuals.

Only non-commercial organisations such as a club or society can conduct Class 2 and Class 3 gambling. Class 2 is gambling where prizes do not exceed $5000 and income from entry fees does not exceed $25,000. No licence is required.

Class 3 is where prizes exceed $5000 and such events require a licence.

Hynds Short Line Out competition P5

- © Fairfax NZ News

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