Mega Toko­roa pokie venue on the way

South Waikato News - - Your Local News - LUKE KIRKEBY

‘‘I strongly be­lieve there should of been pub­lic con­sul­ta­tion and I es­pe­cially be­lieve there should be no in­crease to pokie numbers in Toko­roa,’’ she said.

Pock­ets 8 Ball Club man­ager Wendy Cook, who is also a district coun­cil­lor, de­clared a con­flict of in­ter­est and de­ferred to her lawyer Jar­rod True for com­ment.

True dis­agreed with Young and said hav­ing ma­chines in one lo­ca­tion would help re­duce prob­lem gam­bling and boost Toko­roa’s CBD im­age.

‘‘Hav­ing the ma­chines in one com­bined lo­ca­tion makes it eas­ier to mon­i­tor and con­trol the gam­bling that is be­ing un­der­taken. The sin­gle venue will have staff that are trained in harm min­imi­sa­tion, per­ma­nently lo­cated in the gam­ing room, whose sole job is to mon­i­tor and su­per­vise the gam­ing area,’’ he said.

‘‘From a prob­lem gam­bling viewpoint the num­ber of venues, not the num­ber of ma­chines at each venue, is the real is­sue.’’

‘‘The Q-mas­ters site is ideal for a com­bined club site due to its large site and the am­ple car park­ing avail­able at the rear of the premises.’’

He said the com­bined venue will op­er­ate un­der Pock­ets.

‘‘As part of the re­de­vel­op­ment, Pock­ets 8 Ball Club would like to place large flood­lights on the roof of the build­ing and flood­light the pub­lic car park,’’ he said.

‘‘The club will also have se­cu­rity staff who will es­cort mem­bers to their ve­hi­cles at night and at its cost place two CCTV cam­eras on the roof of the Q-mas­ters build­ing which will pro­vide 24 hour surveil­lance. [This] will make the large pub­lic car park one of the safest lo­ca­tions in town.’’

Se­nior Sergeant Ja­son Hen­der­son said he had con­cerns as crim­i­nal ac­tiv­ity in the South Waikato was of­ten linked to gam­bling.

‘‘We do see ev­i­dence of crim­i­nal ac­tiv­ity to fund gam­bling which is a con­cern,’’ he said.

‘‘In the last cou­ple of weeks we have done a cou­ple of drug search war­rants. We re­moved four peo­ple from our com­mu­nity who were caus­ing noth­ing but harm to us and one of those peo­ple es­sen­tially all they were do­ing was sell­ing drugs to fund their gam­bling.’’

‘‘A lot of it comes down to re­spon­si­ble own­ers and managers. They will know who their prob­lem gam­blers are and as long as they look to be re­spon­si­ble un­der the act that will go a long way to re­duc­ing the harm but I don’t think it will stop it,’’ he said.

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