Draft pol­icy tar­gets pokie machines

Central Leader - - NEWS -

A cam­paign aim­ing to en­cour­age peo­ple to re­ject more pokie machines coming to Auck­land is un­der way.

The Auck­land Coun­cil has opened up con­sul­ta­tion on its draft TAB and pokie machines poli­cies and is ask­ing for feed­back from ci­ti­zens.

The two draft poli­cies pro­pose to re­duce gam­blin­gre­lated harm by lim­it­ing the spread of venues that house elec­tronic gam­ing machines and TAB venues.

The law re­quires coun­cils to have poli­cies on whether to al­low new TAB venues which house pok­ies.

Auck­land Coun­cil’s draft New Zealand Rac­ing Board (TAB) Venue Pol­icy and its draft Class 4 Gam­bling (Pokie) Venue Pol­icy are pro­pos­als set to re­place the poli­cies of Auck­land’s seven former coun­cils.

Auck­land cur­rently has 43 stand-alone TAB venues and 305 pokie ma­chine venues hous­ing more than 4000 elec­tronic gam­ing machines.

The coun­cil wants to cap the num­ber of TABs at the cur­rent num­ber of 43, and im­ple­ment a re­gion-wide sink­ing lid pol­icy for pokie ma­chine venues.

That would mean when one venue closes an­other one could not open, re­duc­ing the num­ber of venues over time.

So­cial and Com­mu­nity Devel­op­ment Fo­rum chair­woman Cathy Casey says the Auck­land Plan iden­ti­fies the need to min­imise gam­bling-re­lated harm.

‘‘Th­ese poli­cies are a tan­gi­ble way to achieve that.’’

The No More Pok­ies cam­paign is be­ing run by Prob- lem Gam­bling Foun­da­tion.

Its na­tional man­ager of pub­lic health Tony Milne says a sink­ing lid is the best op­tion the coun­cil has un­der cur­rent leg­is­la­tion to keep the num­ber of pokie machines down in Auck­land.

‘‘A sink­ing lid means no new li­cences can be granted for pokie venues and machines can’t be trans­ferred if a venue closes,’’ he says.

‘‘That means that over time the num­ber of venues and pokie machines will re­duce.’’

Mr Milne says both Manukau and Waitakere city coun­cils had adopted sink­ing lid poli­cies and it would be great to see Auck­land Coun­cil fol­low their lead.

‘‘We don’t want any more pokie machines in Auck­land,’’ he says. ‘‘They aren’t just a ‘harm­less flut­ter’. Pok­ies are dan­ger­ous and ad­dic­tive machines of­ten de­scribed as the ‘crack co­caine of gam­bling’.’’

The pro­pos­als and submission forms can be ob­tained from Auck­land Li­braries, ser­vice cen­tres and lo­cal board of­fices, or call 09 301 0101. Sub­mis­sions close at 4pm Fe­bru­ary 28.

Num­bers game: How many pokie venues should Auck­land have?

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