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Gisborne discussing new gaming restrictions

Wed, Apr 10, 9:30am by Staff Writer

A raft of new restrictions on gaming machines in the New Zealand town of Gisborne are being discussed.

Aimed at minimising the negative impacts of problem gambling, the draft policy on gambling proposed by the district council prohibits the relocation of gambling venues and limits the number of racing board venues to only one.

Local authorities in the Gisborne District are currently reviewing the Gambling Venue policy as required by the Gambling Act 2003 and Racing Act 2003.

A public hearing on the proposed changes is scheduled for Wednesday, 8 May, when community members and all parties involved will be able to comment on the updated policy that seeks to reduce the rates of compulsive gambling in the region.

There are currently 12 class four gambling venues across the Gisborne District, which is home to 180 machines.

According to the latest class four gambling report published by the Department of Internal Affairs in 2017, there were 4.1 electronic gaming machines per 1000 people in Gisborne.

This figure is the average prevalence when compared to other districts.

Auckland has the lowest with just 2.4 machines per 1000 people, while the West Coast had a record 7.1 pokies per 1000 residents.

As reported by Casino Guardian, the new proposal of the Gisborne District Council does not reduce the number of machines.

It maintains the so-called sinking lid policy that is currently applied to class four machines and expand it to include a number of racing board venues if allowed.

Currently there is just one TAB in Gisborne and if the changes come in to effect, this venue would not be allowed to relocate.

Along with the proposed ban on the relocation of class four gambling venues, this new policy would effectively place tough restrictions on gambling operators, such that if they do relocated, they would lose their operating licence.

The current Gambling Venue policy was approved by council in 2015, but must be assessed and revised if necessary every three years.

It has found that the number of gambling venues and pokies is down from several years ago. At the same time, the revenue from gaming machines is on the rise.

This steady, alarming trend suggests that people are spending more on gambling than they used to a few years ago.

In a ranking of all 67 districts in the country, Gisborne reported the 19th highest rate of gambling loss per head in New Zealand.

People in Gisborne lost $88.03 on average at the pokies.

According to the policy review, this sum is a comparison between the proceeds from gambling machines and the number of people within the region who are of legal age for gambling.

The District Council also revealed that there was no dedicated support service for people struggling with gambling addictions or any other kind of problem gambling behaviour.

Tararua another city calling for tougher restrictions

There are calls for tougher restrictions on gaming machines in the New Zealand city of Tararua, as the community’s penchant for pokies flies in the face of national trends.

The district has the second higher ratio of pokies to people in New Zealand rural areas and gaming machine revenue increased almost 10 per cent in the past two years.

This has led a gambling addiction support groups call for action.

The Problem Gambling Foundation says Tararua needs to step up efforts to reduce the harm pokies are doing in the district and needs to introduce a “sinking lid” policy on the number of gambling venues.

The present sinking lid policy applies only to the number of machines.

The local council is in the middle of reviewing its gambling venue policy and although it has successfully reduced the number of venues and machines in the district, it’s slow going.

Tararua has the second highest ratio of people to pokies of any rural district council, with 0.8 per cent of New Zealand’s poker machines, but only 0.37 per cent of the country’s population.

Council strategy and policy adviser Malcolm Thomas said the district was down to 122 machines from a peak of 134 in 2012, but Tararua ended up with a growing share of the national total because the rest of the country was ditching pokies at a faster rate.

The sinking lid policy for machines was introduced in 2013.

It means no new machines will be introduced in Tararua unless there are fewer than 100 pokies in the district.

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