That phrase has come to mind as I have been buried in the data on this gaming trust. There are, I reckon, some decisions which look, and quack, like ducks. But what species?
In my last blog I looked at where the Air Rescue and Community Service grants went at a macro level. I found a few things out about where their money goes, and the regions it comes from. You can read that here, but the snapshot is that in 2018 total grants had increased to just over $11m (up from $8.7m in the previous year), due in part to the switching of venues in Wellington region to this gaming trust. Over half of that money went to organisations within their “Authorised Purpose”, the Canterbury West Coast Rescue Helicopter (their only shareholder), and now the NZ Flying Doctors service (both owned by the same limited liability company).
Just as a reminder, in italics is the Authorised Purpose of this organisation. The second paragraph is pretty generalist, which is marvellous.
To assist in the provision and development of rescue and medical equipment operated by the Canterbury West Coast Air Rescue Trust. Includes, but not limited to, the provision of winch training and helicopter expenses.
Donations to bona fide charitable, educational, sport, cultural and community organisations within the local community. Excludes payments to professional sports people
Sport gets an awful lot of the funds from this gaming trust. In 2018, there were seven Third Sector Organisations (TSOs) who received over $100k from this grant maker.
- Canterbury Regional Basketball Foundation requested $274k, got $185k from 11 applications, 2 of which were declined
- Cashmere Technical Requested $230k, received $149k from 6 applications, one of which was declined
- Mainland Football Requested $284k, received $129k, from 10 applications, 2 declined
- Ole Academy Requested 146k, received $123k, from 14 applications (3 of which were declined)
- Ferrymead Bays Requested $128k received $117k, from 12 applications, 1 declined
- Coastal Spirit Requested $152k, received $107k, from 6 successful applications
- Theatre Royal Requested $377k, received $100k from 2 applications, one of which was successful.
I have looked at the club financials on the Societies and Charities office website and wrote a fair bit of pretty boring stuff on this, which I’ve now cut. Suffice to say:
· Grants go to things like Admin, coaching and training, playing strip and tournaments
· There are a number of people employed by some clubs.
· Grants are given year round
· Costs tend to be higher for adults
Now, how clubs run themselves is up to the members. But the narrative we, the community, are sold, that these pokie funds are used to support kids to play sport. That assertion is not really supported by the numbers.
You may think this money is great, and the benefits to our community are enormous. Look at the successes internationally of our sports teams. Our juniors are getting more and more competitive on the world stage. That needs money. Much of this money (from my observations of my own club) goes to help our talented players pay their rent. Fair enough. However, the outcome will be that other clubs look to increase their cost base as well, which then leads to more pressure on grant money, and so the ecosystem evolves.
You could also be thinking so what. Surely its up the venues where the machines are located to determine where their funds go to. Actually no. In the rules set out by the DIA about how money is allocated:
Formerly 'Sites', these are the pubs and other venues where gaming machines are located. They do not own the machines and must not be involved in decisions about who can apply for grants, who receives them or how much the grant should be.
We rely on the process and the rules that there is no undue influence from the venues – although I can’t help but wonder WHY those four Wellington venues decided to move to this gaming trust. Over half of the proceeds from those machines will end up with the Canterbury West Coast Rescue Helicopter, which is great for us Cantabs, and possibly those Wellingtonians driving round the South Island. 38% of the money staying in Wellington goes to football. 11% to rugby and 9% to golf. It would be interesting to understand the value proposition of one gaming trust over another to venues.
What gets me about this is the lack of transparency in the process. We have a group on the net proceeds committee allocating $6m to one charity with limited transparency, and then determining how an additional $5m of community funding is allocated, making fairly crucial judgements about what we, as a community value. They have placed the needs of four regional football teams over other TSOs that were declined, who had grant requests reduced, or who didn’t even bother applying. You will have your own view of the species of duck you see.
Solutions? Perhaps the funds should instead go to the sport organising body who can distribute it evenly. Perhaps the community could be required to have representative on the resource allocation bodies of these funding groups. Or perhaps we just suck it up as a cost of doing better in a sport on the world stage. If we do ignore it, the outcome then will be more money going to football each year as clubs seek to compete on an equal footing– and indeed I have just cut in the Jan – June 2019 data and am seeing a 33% increase in money going into football between the same period 2018 and 2019. And lets not forget we could equally ask questions about other groups receiving this money: Miramar Golf Club for example, currently negotiating a $31m sale deal and the $240k given to racing in 2018.
I write about this stuff as believe that as need to understand where funding comes from, where it goes, and how it gets there. These organisations are legal. Third Sector organisations are perfectly entitled to ask for money from them. As a citizenry we allow both those supplying money and those asking for money to operate, and as a community we need to ensure we have oversight over the organisations they choose to fund. I reckon it’s a more informed conversation when we know more. Love to talk with you if you think this is at all interesting, and if you want to dive into the data a bit more than happy to do so. Check out my website http://www.delfi.co.nz/