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New Zealand Communities Getting Power Over Gambling Expansion

New Zealand lawmakers are joining the global effort to keep gambling related problems under control. The country's legislators passed a bill on Monday that will allow communities in New Zealand to have authorization over whether or not new casinos can be built in their jurisdictions.

The bill, which first was proposed back in 2010, had a revival in recent weeks. The legislation was delayed back in 2010 until lawmakers felt they had enough votes to pass the bill, and on Monday that day arrived. The gaming bill will ensure not only that communities have a say in new gaming facilities, but also that funds from existing casinos are filtered into the local community where they reside.

The Gambling Amendment Bill resurfaced this year as negotiations continued between SkyCity Casino and the government. The negotiations would allow SkyCity to add more slot machines to its establishment, and many legislators have grown weary of the rapid pace of gaming expansion in the country.

A recent law called for casinos to reduce the number of machines they offered. The law, however, has only been enforced in some areas of the country, and the new bill would ensure that the enforcement take place across the board. The casinos have been fighting the reduction in slot machines, claiming a loss of machines would end with less tax revenue for the government.

Existing casinos could be in trouble with the new law. The bill allows for councils to decide whether or not the casino is causing too much harm to the community. If the councils conclude the casino is causing harm, they would have the authorization to deny a new license to the gaming facility.

The percentage of revenue the casinos could keep to themselves is also changed in the new law. Under the new proposal, casinos would get 20 percent of their winnings, while the community in which the casino resides would receive 80 percent of the losses. That is a significant change that is designed to help communities deal with the possible negative effects of casino gambling.

The distribution procedure for the gaming revenue would also be altered under the new legislation. Currently, corporate entities divide up the revenue, but that task would be handed over to local committees in the areas where the casinos operate.

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