Kaupapa whare petipeti 2022

Gambling venue policy 2022

Gisborne District Council proposes to make changes to our Gambling Venue Policy 2019.

The draft policy retains the current ‘sinking lid’ approach, meaning no new venues can establish and when a venue closes (for longer than 6 months) it cannot reopen.

The changes being suggested include:

  • Further restricting the ability for venues to relocate
  • Lowering the number machines permitted after a club merger
  • Developing an Ethics Policy to inform future external funding decisions

More details about each proposal

Restricting relocation

The proposed Gambling Venue Policy 2022 reduces the ability of venues to relocate, by ensuring venues can only move when their buildings require earthquake repairs/proofing.

Options considered
Option One - Status quo

Allow venues to relocate under circumstances beyond their control. This requires a consideration of strict criteria and provides an avenue for venues to ensure they retain their pokies.

Option Two - Only allow relocation for earthquake strengthening during a fixed period.

This option enables Council to work towards a pokie free status and utilise a more restrictive approach. This aligns with Council’s objectives and employs the full range of legislative controls available.

The Building (Earthquake-prone Buildings) Act 2016 provides timeframes and guidance for areas of high seismic risk. Gisborne meets the high-risk criteria and Council has already issued section 124 notices on all earthquake prone buildings. This means that most of the region's earthquake strengthening is due by September 2022 or September 2023. This is important to consider if Council intends on implementing a fixed timeframe.

Option Three - Allow relocation only to complete earthquake strengthening for an open-ended timeframe.

Whilst this option is more restrictive than the status quo, venues may exploit this opportunity to upgrade their premises. Instead, a fixed period similar to the Building Act might be a reasonable timeframe for solely strengthening/ repairing.

Furthermore, outside of this policy, earthquake strengthening timeframes will still need to be followed to ensure compliance with the Building Act.

Option Four - Remove the relocation clause.

This would prevent the movement of venues. If there is no relocation policy, then an operator will have no ability to transfer their entitlement from the existing venue to a new location.

If Council wish to allow venues to move from a premise for work to be done but not permit machines to operate at a temporary location, then it is no longer classed as a gaming venue. This means a relocation clause would not apply and a tavern, for example, that normally has gaming machines may be able to relocate temporarily under the Alcohol Act. However, when the venue is returned to the gaming machines can resume operating.

Preferred optionOption Two – Only allow relocation for earthquake strengthening during a fixed period.

Less gambling machines after cub mergers

The proposed gambling venue policy 2022 lowers the maximum number of machines permitted at a merged club from 18 to 10.

Options considered
Option One - Status quo

Continue with the Club Merger approach. The current policy outlines that the number of machines allowed to merge can be the sum number of gaming machines specified in all the clubs’ Class 4 venue licenses at the time of application or 18 machines, whichever is the lesser. This option would result in the loss of at least six machines if a merger occurs and enables Council to work towards a pokie free Tairāwhiti.

Option Two - Reduce the number of machines permitted in a merge from 18 down to 10.

The Act specifies that merging machine numbers must not exceed the number of gaming machines specified in a territorial authority consent. This option would result in the loss of at least 14 machines if a merger occurs and enables Council to work towards a pokie free Tairāwhiti.

However, a cost of further reducing the maximum is that clubs may be deterred from merging. Consequently, the district would be less likely to lose a reasonable number of machines.

Option Three – Prevent clubs from merging completely.

This could prevent the region from losing a significant number of machines, as it makes a merger less attractive. On the other hand, if one club is no longer viable and closes, all that club’s machines would be removed from the community.

Preferred option

Option Two - Reduce the number of machines permitted in a merge from 18 down to 10.

Ethics policy on gambling related funds

An Ethics Policy could be a standalone policy document or included in another financial policy. An Ethics Policy would state Council’s position on using proceeds from gaming and other forms of gambling to directly fund Council activities. It does not necessarily mean a blanket ‘ban’ on using funds derived from gaming or other forms of gambling (such as Lottery).

Options considered
Option One - Status quo

Proceed without an Ethics Policy. This option may be perceived as a conflict of interest as Council will continue to access and regulate funding from gambling.

Option Two – Develop an Ethics Policy

This option will ensure Council takes a strong stance against gambling in the community and will require ethical alternative funding to be sought.

Council has not received direct funding from gaming trusts since 2018/2019, when funding was received for projects including:

  • Playzone at the library, 2018 - $349,000
  • Lawson Field Theatre, 2019 - $400,000
  • Lions Cycle Park, 2018 - $97,756

However, we have recently made funding applications to the NZCT for individual playgrounds in the Township Upgrades programme.

As noted by the Gaming Association NZ, even if Council elect not to receive funding directly, large amounts of gaming revenue will be obtained indirectly. Council receives playing field hire, swimming lane hire, venue hire, and rates from community groups who pay for these items from gambling grant money.

Council has also received several Lottery grants for a variety of projects.

Preferred optionOption Two – Develop an Ethics Policy. Time and resourcing requirements are dependent on whether Council implements a stand-alone policy or incorporates an ethics clause into a pre-existing strategy.

The proposed Gambling Venue Policy 2021 refers to lobbying to Central Government.

Options considered
Option One - Status quo

Proceed without lobbying to Central Government. This option would prevent Council from sending the message of achieving a ‘pokie free Tairawhiti’.

Option Two – Lobby the Government to regulate online gambling and minimise problem gambling.

This option could be crucial for tighter restrictions in the Class 4 gambling space. However, it may drive patrons to foreign online sources which have significantly less controls around them.

Option Three – Write to a local MP

Or/and the Department of Internal Affairs (DIA) Minister Hon Jan Tinetti. This option would allow Council to emphasise the dire situation in Tairawhiti and therefore apply more pressure to Central Government.

Option Four – Form a coalition with other interested Councils

And petition to Central Government. This option would help apply pressure to Central Government but would be a more ad hoc approach than Option Five.

Option Five - Prepare a remit

For Local Government New Zealand’s (LGNZ) Annual General Meeting (AGM) 2022. This option could have greater standing and more impact than a coalition petition to Central Government. This would require Council to begin preparing in March 2022.

Preferred optionsOptions two, three and five are preferred as this reflects a timely, yet coordinated approach.

Key documents

The Statement of Proposal includes the legislative framework

Gambling Venue Policy 2019 - up for review


Consultation period17 February - 21 March 2022
Hearing to hear submissions19 May 2022
Council decision23 June 2022