Spot prize crackdown

UNWELCOME MOVE: New Lynn fisherman Kerren Packer does not agree with an Internal Affairs crackdown on spot prizes in fishing competitions.
UNWELCOME MOVE: New Lynn fisherman Kerren Packer does not agree with an Internal Affairs crackdown on spot prizes in fishing competitions.

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

The Internal Affairs Department has targeted the practice and says it is a form of gambling.

Some fishing competition organisers have received notices warning that any spot prizes worth more than $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 by a pokies trust, which said its business was suffering from spot prize giveaways at other events.

Manukau Sport Fishing Club president Merv Wardell anticipates many clubs will just work around it.

"It's all about bureaucracy," he says.

Beach and Boat fishing competition organiser Tony Wheeler says it has been dreadful getting the upcoming event to meet the standards. "It's been a nightmare and no-one else would want to go through it. Long-term it doesn't look good for fishing competitions.

"And what really gets me is that over the ditch if you want to organise something similar you just go down the road to your council, pay your $299 to register the event, and you're away as long as you have police present for the prize draw which we already do."

New Lynn fisherman Kerren Packer, who travels to the Ruakaka-based event, says the move is a big blow to fishing competitions.

"Internal Affairs likes to think that the spot prizes are a big drawcard but it's really about friends, family and the camaraderie of fishing.

"Sure the rewards can be attractive but it's more about pitting your skills against the rest."

Mr Packer says the idea that gamblers would turn to fishing to make money is farfetched.

"That would be a long bow to draw. Large cash prizes are not the reality and most competitions include prizes sponsored by local businesses.

"It gives businesses a chance to be seen supporting recreation and family events."

Internal Affairs gambling compliance director Debbie Despard says spot prizes are 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 in which prizes or turnover do not exceed $500 and all profit goes in prizes.

These may be conducted by individuals.

Only a non-commercial organisation 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. A licence is required.

Western Leader