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Review of Gambling Venue Policy 2019

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Review of Gambling Venue Policy 2019

Submissions to the review of the Gambling Venue policy closed 9 April, we received 79 submissions. A hearing will be held Wednesday 8 May 2019.

We're required by the Gambling Act 2003 and Racing Act 2003 to review our Gambling Venue policy every 3 years. The policy was last reviewed in 2015 and remains in effect until Council adopts a new policy.

The purpose of the policy is to control the growth of gambling and minimise the harm caused by it, including problem gambling. Under the Acts, we're required to have a policy specifying the number, location, and restrictions that apply to Class 4 gambling machine (pokies) and TAB venues in the district.  

Key changes proposed: 

The draft policy seeks to prohibit Class 4 gambling venues from relocating under any circumstance.  

It will replace the current regional cap on racing board venues with a 'sinking lid' approach. There's one TAB remaining in Gisborne and under the revised policy no others will be permitted and the existing venue will have no option to relocate.


In our district there are 12 venues licenced to operate Class 4 gambling (pokie) machines. These venues are in the Gisborne urban area, except for one in Ruatoria. Collectively the venues operate 180 machines. There are between 9 and 18 pokie machines in each venue.

Review of the policy

A review of the state of gambling in the region showed that:
• The number of gambling venues is decreasing.
• Class 4 gambling machine numbers are decreasing.
• Gambling machine proceeds are steadily increasing.
• Gisborne’s ‘loss per head’ figure of $88.03 places the region 19th out of 67 districts in New Zealand. (Total GMP (Gambling Machine proceeds) divided by the district’s gambling age population).
• It is estimated that Gambling Machine Proceeds for the district will approach $11m for 2018.
• Data on problem gambling in the region is difficult to assess.
• The district does not currently have a dedicated problem gambling support service.

The review showed that the ‘sinking lid’ approach adopted for Class 4 gambling machines is working to reduce the number of gambling machines in the region. However, the amount of money spent at gambling machines is increasing.

Proposed changes to the gambling venues policy

It's proposed to remove objective “Facilitate responsible gambling” from the 2019 policy. Council is focussed on preventing the growth of gambling and minimising harm. While agreeing with the sentiment of the objective, Council has no means to facilitate responsible gambling through this policy.

Number of racing board venues

The proposed policy caps the total number of Racing Board venues in the Gisborne district at one. The reasons for Council seeking to introduce greater restrictions for Racing Board venues include that it:

1) Is in keeping with Council’s ‘sinking lid’ approach.
2) Enables Council to minimise harm caused by problem gambling within the district.
3) Better aligns with Council’s Community Outcomes of Tairāwhiti Tangata (our people) and Tairāwhiti Taonga (our environment, culture and economy).

This policy does not apply to automated internet sports betting kiosks, which are not covered under the current legislation.

Relocation of Class 4 venues

The proposed policy removes the ability for Class 4 gambling venues to relocate. Under the new policy, if an existing licence holder is required to move premises, they will lose their consent to operate as a gambling venue. Preventing relocation is in keeping with Council’s ‘sinking lid’ approach.

Read the Statement of Proposal for more information. 

Draft policy

Draft Gambling Venue Policy 2019 
Statement of Proposal [PDF, 191 KB] - Gambling Venue Policy 2019

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