Pokie rule change opposed
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.