Pokie rule change op­posed

Central Leader - - News - By Janie Smith

A pro­posal to change Auck­land city’s “sink­ing lid” pol­icy on pokie ma­chines will be op­posed by the Prob­lem Gam­bling Foun­da­tion.

The new draft gam­bling venue pol­icy, which is cur­rently out for pub­lic con­sul­ta­tion, amends the sink­ing lid to al­low for new venues in cer­tain cir­cum­stances.

Foun­da­tion chief ex­ec­u­tive Graeme Ram­sey says it will make a sub­mis­sion ask­ing for a sink­ing lid with no amend­ments.

“Our view is straight­for­ward. While we’re not anti gam­bling, we’re cer­tainly anti pokie ma­chines. They are a danger­ous prod­uct.”

He says the ma­chines are the pri­mary prob­lem for more than 80 per­cent of the peo­ple who seek help for treat­ment from the foun­da­tion.

“We want to see a sink­ing lid and the num­ber of pokie ma­chines re­duced, full stop.”

Un­der the draft pol­icy, venue and ma­chine num­bers are not al­lowed to in­crease but a new venue can be set up if it re­places an ex­ist­ing venue and op­er­ates fewer ma­chines than the site it re­places.

New venues can’t be es­tab­lished in high-de­pri­va­tion ar­eas of the city, on coun­cil-owned land, within 100 me­tres of an­other venue of the same kind, within 100 me­tres of a school, kinder­garten, early child­hood cen­tre, place of wor­ship or com­mu­nity fa­cil­ity.

The pol­icy was ap­proved for pub­lic con­sul­ta­tion at an Auck­land City Coun­cil meet­ing last month.

Coun­cil­lor Paul Gold­smith said the pol­icy “strikes a good bal­ance”.

“We are re­tain­ing the sink­ing lid which re­flects se­ri­ous con­cerns from the com­mu­nity about the con­se­quences of gam­bling, but with a bit of flex­i­bil­ity built into the regime.”

Coun­cil­lor Cathy Casey said the pol­icy was “not the way to go about busi­ness”.

“The sta­tus quo is the sink­ing lid. We should be ask­ing the pub­lic, ‘Do you want us to main­tain it?’??”

She said the Waitakere City Coun­cil had re­cently re­ceived 4600 sub­mis­sions on its pro­posal to in­tro­duce a sink­ing lid pol­icy and 95 per­cent of sub­mit­ters were in favour of it.

“Why aren’t we main­tain­ing the sta­tus quo? What is it the coun­cil is try­ing to do? I don’t think we’ve got it right.”

The pol­icy has sim­i­lar rules for New Zealand Racing Board venues, which must be 500 me­tres from TAB bet­ting ser­vices and 100m away from schools, kinder­gartens, early child­hood cen­tres, wor­ship places and com­mu­nity fa­cil­i­ties.

Mr Gold­smith says the pol­icy al­lows venues and gam­bling ma­chines to be re­lo­cated out of clus­ters and ar­eas of high de­pri­va­tion.

“This is an im­prove­ment on the ex­ist­ing pol­icy which has ef­fec­tively frozen the his­toric lo­ca­tion of gam­bling ma­chines, be­cause even if the venue is run-down the ma­chines are un­able to move.

“The cur­rent pol­icy also gives cor­po­rate so­ci­eties no abil­ity to shift lo­ca­tion if a venue has to be closed down due to pub­lic works.”

Sub­mis­sions are open un­til Novem­ber 2 and will then go to a hear­ing panel which will rec­om­mend a fi­nal gam­bling venue pol­icy to the coun­cil by March next year.

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