Pokie policy raises concerns
A licensing trust is concerned its funding to community groups is being hindered because of the Auckland City Council’s sinking lid policy on pokie machines.
The council’s policy means the gambling machines are decommissioned when a venue closes down and can’t be moved to another premises.
Portage Licensing Trust member Duncan Macdonald says the loss of the machines means the trust can’t pass on thousands of dollars in revenue to community groups.
The Peninsula Hotel in Avondale had to close after a new lease agreement could not be reached with the owner.
And the trust had to say goodbye to the pokies at the site as well.
The trust came close to losing more machines from Richardson’s tavern in Owairaka after the New Zealand Transport Agency decided it needed the land for the Waterview connection.
The government’s revised plan for a combined surface and tunnel motorway means Richardson’s can stay open, but will lose part of its driveway to the motorway.
Mr Macdonald says there should be a consistent gambling policy across the region.
“In Waitakere, they are civilised and set a cap on how many poker machines are allowed,” he says.
“But in Auckland city if you change address, you can’t take them with you,” he says.
Auckland and Manukau have a sinking lid policy, while Waitakere and North Shore have a cap, with no new machines.
Auckland city’s arts, culture and recreation group manager Ruth Stokes says the 2004 policy is under review and changes could be made.
“Some of the indications from the research show that while the number of machines has fallen, the amount of money going through them hasn’t reduced,” she says.
“The objective is to reduce harm. There is a possible argument that the policy is not achieving its goals.”
Council community services committee chairman Paul Goldsmith wants to see the full review before he makes a final decision.
But he acknowledges in some cases the sinking lid policy creates some difficulty.
“We are going to be looking at whether to stick with the strict sinking lid or do we offer some flexibility and move to a cap,” he says. “These are the basic options.” The committee will make its decision in August before asking for public consultation. Tired of the clogged truck traffic on Neilson St?
Don’t fret, a resolution may be at hand.
Managed lanes have been suggested at this month’s Auckland City Council transport committee meeting in a report by senior transport planner Daniel Newcombe.
The managed lanes could be a bus lane, a cycle lane and freight lane or a lane just for vehicles with two or more occupants.
Onehunga Business Association manager Amanda Kinzett welcomes the proposals.
“Neilson St is a nightmare,” she says.
“It’s backed up most of the day and there is a huge amount of business traffic and airport traffic. We are the gateway to Auckland city and our roads have reached capacity.”
Ms Kinzett says the road has been on the council’s agenda for years but has been continually deferred.
The transport committee supports ongoing investigations by the New Zealand Transport Agency into managed lanes. The transport agency will be considering factors such as cost, congestion levels and traffic volumes.
Mr Newcombe’s report says changes are already under way.
“Road widening is in place and land purchases have been undertaken,” he says. “The corridor designs have been developed so they can accommodate managed lanes.”
Results from investigations will be reported back in October.
Funding source: Portage Licensing Trust member Duncan Macdonald wants the Auckland City Council to change its sinking lid policy on pokie machines.