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Gambling policy review advises further restrictions

Thursday 3 February, 2022.

Further restrictions have been proposed to Council’s Gambling Venue Policy after its three-yearly review.

At the Sustainable Tairāwhiti meeting last week Councillors voted to consult on the draft Gambling Venue Policy 2022 which retains the district’s “sinking lid” approach and restricts when venues can relocate.

The key elements of the draft policy are:

  • Retaining the ‘sinking lid’ approach.
  • Reducing the maximum number of machines permitted at a club merger down from 18 to ten.
  • Further limiting the venue relocation policy to buildings that require earthquake strengthening.

Council also seeks feedback on the following initiative:

  • Development of an ethics policy prescribing which sources of external funding Council can apply to.

Council will also lobby Central Government. This will include joining forces with Hastings District Council, writing to MPs including Minister of Internal Affairs Jan Tinetti and preparing a paper for the Local Government NZ annual general meeting in July 2022.

Community consultation is open from 17 February to 17 March, with public hearings scheduled for 19 May 2022.

Mayor Rehette Stoltz thanked Council staff for guiding them through the review, which was not straightforward.

“We now look forward to the consultation period. This is always an issue that brings out the hard work people do in our community to help those with an addiction, and the impact gambling has on our whanau.”
The sinking lid policy was adopted by Council 18 years ago in 2004. It means no licences to gamble in clubs and pubs can be approved, and existing licences cannot be moved to other premises.

This means pokie machines in our region will continue to reduce. In the year ended March 2021 the machines collected more than $10 million in Tairāwhiti.

Council Chief of Strategy and Science Joanna Noble says Council is hampered by the rules to reduce the machines any faster than the existing sinking lid policy.

“The Department of Internal Affairs holds the licencing strings. Council cannot remove existing machines.

“The only way to become a pokie-free Tairāwhiti is to retain the sinking lid policy.”

There are 11 licensed gambling venues operating in Tairāwhiti with 159 Electronic Gaming Machines between them.