Grassroots backs pokie cap

The 5-7 year olds prepare to get underway at the Cambridge Cycling Festival this year. Photo: Mary Anne Gill.

The operator of 108 gaming machines at seven venues in Cambridge and Te Awamutu is supporting a cap on the number of pokie machines in Waipā.

Limiting the total to 232 would mean Grassroots Trust can maintain its 47 per cent of the market and continue to generate funding for community organisations, it says in its submission to the council’s Gambling in Waipā review.

The council received 234 submissions and will consider them at its October Strategic Planning and Policy committee.

Waipā has 106 pokie machines in Te Awamutu, 72 in Cambridge, 36 in Leamington and 18 in Kihikihi.

Of those, Grassroots have 45 from three venues in Te Awamutu – Joy’s Place, Oval Sports Bar and the Firkin Sports Bar – 27 from two in Cambridge – Prince Albert and The Clubhouse – 18 in Leamington at 5 Stags and 18 in the Star Tavern, Kihikihi.

The rest of the operators include Pub Charity and Trillian trusts, Milestone and the Lion foundations.

Grassroots distributed $2.371 million in grants to 61 organisations in the 12 months ended July 31.

The organisation is the fourth largest class four operator in New Zealand and the largest in the North Island.

Martin Bradley

Executive chairman Martin Bradley said Grassroots supports a capped policy which would contain any growth in gaming machine numbers despite the district’s population growth.

Currently there are five gaming machines per 1000 adult residents which could be expected to be less than four by 2050.

The trust supports the status quo policy of not allowing new venues across the road from a school or licensed early childhood centre and supports the ability to relocate pokie machines.

“Often these relocations are to newer, smaller, modern and more vibrant premises that create a positive entertainment precinct, supporting the local economy and encouraging tourism to the area.

“Permitting venues to relocate can also have some harm minimisation benefits such as relocating venues from high deprivation areas to low deprivation areas assisting to minimise risk of gambling harm,” Bradley says in his submission.

Grassroots regularly exceeds the minimum regulatory requirement to return 40 per cent of gross proceeds to authorised purposes.

“It is Grassroots intention to distribute funds back to the community that it was generated from – across the sport, community and education sectors.”

The biggest grant in Cambridge went to The Home of Cycling Charitable Trust which got $115,000 for funding the general manager’s salary and costs associated with insurance and electricity expenses.

Te Awamutu’s biggest grant of $204,000 went towards buying a new Generation 4 ambulance for St John and $124,500 to Te Awamutu Rugby Sports for salary costs, contributions to a cycling tour, new uniforms and netballs.

Among the Cambridge grants are $22,340 to Leamington Rugby Sports Club for rugby uniforms and equipment, $13,300 to Cambridge Soccer Club to fund its technical director and $20,000 for portable goals, $7160 to Heartsafe Cambridge for eight lockbox AEDs, Cambridge Primary School $5000 for purchasing PE and sports equipment, Central Bowling Club has $5000 for a greens mower and its cross town rivals Cambridge Bowling Club gets $10,000 for its new turf, $5000 for the installation of a bowling green surface and $15,000 for civil construction, labour and materials to lay the bowling green.

Cambridge Cricket gets $12,700 for two community pathway coaches, $32,000 for a new cricket roller, $20,000 and $25,000 towards the Director of Cricket’s salary.

Meanwhile the BMX club can buy new LED floodlights with its $6100 and install an eight-rider safety start gate with the $20,000 it received. Hautapu Sports gets $39,000 towards the salary costs of its general manager, coaches and trainer, operational expenses and a van purchase.

Cambridge Racquets Club can buy squash and tennis balls with its $1840, the badminton club will get 150 shuttles with the $5400 it has and the Stragglers Rod and Kustom Club can fund its November car show at Karāpiro with its $11,062.

Cambridge high school can purchase a double boat with its $19,450 and rugby uniforms and equipment with $18,710, the Community House gets $10,000 towards a counsellor’s salary, Armistice in Cambridge $8250, Riverside Golf Club has $20,000 to build a covered driving range at its Tīeke course and the Cambridge Cycling Festival receives $30,000 for its annual event on Anzac Day.

Finally, timber for two new raised beds at the Cambridge community garden attracted a $1343 grant.

The rest of Grassroots board of directors are Kevin Burgess (pharmacist), Jeremy O’Rourke (real estate), Tracey Gunn (barrister), Gary Troup (sports marketing) and Fraser Lellman (accountant).

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