Exercise picks up gambling gaffe

A Department of Internal Affairs training exercise uncovered an internal blunder which had incorrectly found South Waikato had the worst gamblers in the country.

Department statisticians appeared to have forgotten to take into account the reshuffle of Auckland's new Super City boundaries, resulting in a domino effect on the Franklin, Waikato and South Waikato districts' figures.

In the department's statistics - released at the beginning of the month - for the 12 months ending March 2014, it showed $1,986,959.81 had been spent on South Waikato's 11 gaming venues and 160 slots.

At the time, the figure drew the ire of the district Mayor Neil Sinclair who was unimpressed at the title and hoped to see the figures reversed in the next round of statistics.

But Sinclair's wish was realised sooner than expected, with a department spokesman confirming to Fairfax Media today that four venues had been incorrectly coded due to the new Auckland city boundaries.

This meant that gaming machine expenditure between January 1, 2013, and March 31, 2014, had been overstated for South Waikato and understated for Waikato district.

Asked how the error had been picked up, the spokesman said the error was "picked up during a training exercise in the department".

"So we wanted to set the record straight.".

The new and revised figures show that in the 12 months ending March 2014 gaming machine expenditure in South Waikato pubs and clubs had dropped 4.3 per cent by $287,583 to $6,450,201.

However, in the Waikato District the figure rose by more than $1.5 million - or a whopping 26 per cent - by $1,666,380 to $8,087,384.32.

"This increase was largely attributable to venues being added to Waikato District that were formerly part of Franklin District (with the remainder of Franklin District now part of Auckland city), rather than an actual increase in gambling spending," the spokesman said.

"Nationally, expenditure in the March year was down 2 per cent from $828.7m to $811.6m."

Waikato Times