I thought this was quite interesting, and wondered if this was due to the number of machines, or a lower spend. DIA has a huge amount of data on its website, so I had a gander at the December 2015 data on gaming trusts.
Otago has one machine for every 217 people, and Canterbury has one per every 274. So – Otago has more machines per capita.
So that leads us to spend. The spend figures are of course nett of winnings, and of course these run at between 90 and 95% of all that goes into the machine. So, according to my data, every person in Canterbury contributed $73 to the nett gaming proceeds, and in Otago it was $35.
All very interesting – but so what. Aside from some commentary about society, and the joy the management accountants must feel for the Canterbury assets, the data (to me) highlights some of the biggest concerns around the funding ecosystem. Can we imagine a Canterbury where the population’s pokie spend is more like that of our Southern neighbours? That will reduce the pokie grants by $15m. Will that make a difference to local not for profits? Silly question. And what say the good residents of Otago get gripped by the pokie bug and up their spend to that of Canterbury’s? That would increase the funding pool by $7m. Would that be hoovered up?
Lotteries have announced lower distributions due to lower lotto spend. In Canterbury 2/3 of funding comes from gambling: either lotteries or pokies. This funding ecosystem has issues in both supply of grant funding, and in demand for that funding.
It would be interesting to have a detailed look at Southland at a macro level: I have spent an hour or so poking around various funders in the region. The Invercargill Licensing Trust as a funder in 2015 put $8m into the region: $4m from liquor, and the balance from gaming machines. Other pokies (from my back of the envelope calculation) put $3m in 2015, and the local community trust just under $7m. Divide that by population, leaving around $200 per person – Otago’s and Canterbury’s is 60% of this. Now, trying to find a bottle of wine at the supermarket is impossible down south, and the funding source is effectively another vice, but I would suggest that what is effectively a community tax is funded by a far broader demographic base. I would also hazard a guess that the ratepayers of Invercargill possibly do not need to fund local government grants, and indeed, looking through the ICC’s annual reports local government grants seem to be minimal.
I guess it’s too late to get the licensing trust genie back in the bottle for the wider nation, but perhaps if I was queen and looking to legalise (or tax) something else, perhaps there would be an opportunity to siphon some off for community purposes. Although – 10 cent sugar tax on the 518 m litres drunk in 2014, less administration of say 50%, probably won’t make much difference to community funding.
Would love to talk to you if you think this is quite interesting too.