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Hamilton’s gambling policy stays the same

Thu, Sep 26, 9:51am by Staff Writer

Hamilton mayor Andrew King has called out a group of councillors after a change to council’s gambling policy failed to gather the required support.

Hamilton City Council voted 7-6 to continue with the current sinking lid policy, which includes limited mergers and relocations, rather than amending the policy to have no relocations or mergers, the NZ Herald reports.

The current policy allows venues to relocate into/within a permitted gambling area with some restrictions and two clubs to merge.

For example, a venue outside the permitted gambling area can relocate to a site within the area, or two clubs with nine gambling machines each may merge and have a maximum of 18 machines.

Before the motion to restrict relocations or mergers, Mr King said that certain councillors were saying one thing, but voting the other.

“Peter Dunne got done because of his liberal position he took on matters like this, and I’d suggest last time these conservative issues came up before an election, a group of people around this table got done as well, so think carefully before you vote,” Mr King said.

He said councillors needed to step up on decisions they know are right.

“You are saying these decisions are right and then you’re justifying it by saying less money is coming in [through pokies], when more money is coming in. It just doesn’t make sense and you are convincing yourself on something that is not the truth.”

After his motion was lost, he proceeded to ask governance to read out the names of who voted and which way, something that has been rarely done this term.

Majority of submissions wanted to maintain status quo

The council took submissions on the policy, with only 34 received.

Of the 34, 93 per cent said they wanted the current policy to continue, while 5 per cent wanted the adoption of no relocations of pokies machines.

Councillor and mayoralty candidate Paula Southgate said she supported the sinking lid policy, but could not support pulling the rug underneath community organisations which receive funding from pokies.

“The views were quite clearly expressed in public consultation,” Ms Southgate said.

“Other candidates will no doubt go out and attack me on a moral basis but let me make it clear, I do not like gambling.”

Ms O’Leary, who is also running for the mayoralty, said the community groups that council heard from rely heavily on the funding from pokies.

“Option B was a slightly stronger option, but because of the relocation clause and listening to the community groups I will support continuing the current sinking lid policy,” Ms O’Leary said.

“I am concerned for the clubs that do rely heavily on the funding.”

Councillor Ryan Hamilton said making the sinking lid stricter should be a priority for the council.

“I do not think that the sky will fall down,” Mr Hamilton said.

“This decision is part of a long-term step which will be better for our community.”

Councillor Dave Macpherson, who has been lobbying for “no more pokies” in this year’s election said he helps run an amateur sport in the area, and that they do not get one cent of pokies money.

“We do not need, and amateur sports do not need pokies money to run as long as they organise themselves well,” he said.

Councillors O’Leary, Southgate, James Casson, Siggi Henry, Rob Pascoe, Leo Tooman and Garry Mallett voted in favour of retaining the current policy.

Mayor King, deputy mayor Martin Gallagher, and councillors Macpherson, Hamilton, Geoff Taylor and Mark Bunting voted for the change to no relocations or mergers.

Sky City profits down after lucky year for baccarat players

Casino operator Sky City says it made $137 million in profit in 12 months to June 30, down 14.7 per cent from a year ago, following the sale of its Darwin property and as international gamblers got lucky on baccarat, The West reported last month.

The Kiwi casino and entertainment company said the high stakes gamblers who bet $14.1 billion at Sky City casinos had a good year, resulting a house “win rate” of just 1 per cent and costing Sky City $26.4 million in profit for the year.

Baccarat has a theoretical win rate or house advantage of 1.35 per cent – meaning that for every $100 bet, the casino retains $1.35.

In the nine years before last, Sky City’s win rate averaged 1.33 per cent and was 1.32 per cent in fiscal 2018 but has been below 1 per cent before.

“Bet size and frequency of play can vary and cause win rate to deviate from the theoretical over discrete periods,” the company said.

Sky City said that stripping away the impact of its unlucky win rate, the $188 million sale of its Darwin casino to Delaware North in April and the sale of a carpark in Auckland resulted in a normalised net profit after tax of $164.4 million, up 1.9 per cent.

Sky City kept its dividend unchanged; ASX shareholders will be paid 11.7647 NZ cents per share, unfranked.

Sky City said its international convention centre and five-star hotel project in Auckland was progressing more slowly than hoped, but its $330 million expansion of its Adelaide casino was on-time and on-budget, and expected to open in October 2020, in time for the T20 Cricket World Cup.

The development will include a 123-room luxury hotel, a wellness centre and more restaurants and bars.

SkyCity’s new bar and restaurant, the Guardsman, is set to open in the Adelaide Railway Station in November.

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