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Court backs govt's gambling move

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 15/12/2016

A government decision to cut funding to New Zealand's biggest problem gambling programme has been backed by the Court of Appeal.

In a decision released on Friday morning, the court has found in favour of the attorney-general after an appeal against a decision made by a lower court.

The Problem Gambling Foundation lost the bulk of its $4 million funding in March last year after the Ministry of Health opted to switch providers.

It successfully appealed the decision with the High Court in July, saying the ministry had failed to go through the proper process in giving the contract away and calling its evaluation "unreliable" and statistically flawed.

However, the Court of Appeal now says the High Court erred on four points.

"The ministry had a discretion as to how it evaluated proposals.... The [request for proposals] was silent as to the process the ministry was to follow," the decision said.

It was a complex process which involved national and regional providers but the ministry was under no obligation to use a statistically sound process in arriving at its decision, the judges said.

Last year, opposition parties claimed the foundation was losing the funding because it opposed a government deal which allowed the SkyCity casino an extra 230 pokie machines in exchange for building a convention centre.

But the government said the new provider, The Salvation Army, also opposed the deal.

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