Sinking lid on pokies

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Waipā council says it is effectively operating a sinking lid policy with pokie machines.

The comment comes in the wake of a report from AUT suggests councils are a vital factor in finding a solution to the problem.

And it also comes as Ōtorohanga debates a call to allow more pokies in the district.

A report released last week by the Auckland University of Technology –  Capping Problem Gambling in NZ – said local councils could be effective in addressing problem gambling by introducing policies to reduce the number of gaming machines allowed per venue.

By law, local councils must draw up a policy to regulate pokie use. The report said councils which limit or reduce pokie numbers help reduce problem gambling.

The report cited concerns that because a portion of funds from the machines was poured back into the community in the form of gaming grants, councils’ decisions making on their numbers could be compromised.

Waipa Council’s gambling policy was updated in 2019 and capped the number of pokie machines at 232.

“We retained the same cap as the previous three years, so when you look at population growth figures, in practicality, this is a sinking lid policy,” a council spokesperson said.

The 232 machines in Waipā are in 16 venues – there are 108 in Cambridge and 124 in Te Awamutu.

The report’s author Christopher Erwin said the Gambling Act passed in 2003, empowered councils to limit the number of machines in any establishment and to draw up their own policies.
Erwin said the report looked at “what different policies had been enacted and how effective they had been, both in reducing availability of pokies in the community and also reducing the amount of losses that players have experienced at these pokie machines”.

Waipā next review of its policy will be next year.

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