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Draft Gambling Control Policy Before Council

Media release 12 February 2003

DRAFT GAMBLING CONTROL POLICY BEFORE COUNCIL

Manukau City Council's draft gaming venue control policy is to go before full Council on February 26 after being approved by the community development committee last night.

Under the Gaming Act 2003, all councils are required to have a policy for class 4 venues (premises containing gaming machines, excluding casinos).

After consideration by full Council there will be one calendar month of public consultation on the policy proposals, which is likely to be throughout March. Hearings of oral submissions are likely to begin in the third week of April.

The Gambling Act 2003 provides a new role for councils - the power to decide whether and where new class 4 venues may operate, and the number of machines that may be operated. Prior to this, licensing and oversight of the gambling industry was the sole responsibility of the Department of Internal Affairs.

Manukau mayor Sir Barry Curtis says the council is eager to hear every viewpoint during the public consultation period.

He says, "Undoubtedly, gambling has great benefits for many community organisations such as sports clubs. They receive money from the profits and would otherwise not survive because they can't raise the money any other way. And the Papatoetoe Santa Parade is one example of an event which only takes place due to funding from gambling.

"However we believe Manukau is not getting its fair share of the profits of gambling. We receive only $8 per person per year from the 6 major trusts which distribute funding. That's the lowest per head among all the 7 council areas in the region. So a large amount of money from Manukau gamblers is definitely not being returned to the community.

"And we don't know what happens to money raised by the 19 smaller trusts active in the district.

"The new legislation will give us a much-improved system because the money from gambling will be easy to track when new electronic monitoring systems become mandatory.

"Currently we cannot track where all the money generated is going. Things are still murky at the moment, and we need to know the precise turnover and losses in each gambling venue.

"However we also need to limit the numbers of pokie machines in the city. There has been a huge rise in numbers in recent years and that's been paralleled by the increase in problem gamblers. One of the aims of the new gambling legislation is to minimise harm and so we must achieve that.

"Research shows that actively limiting growth in the numbers of gaming machines and venues is an effective strategy in that regard, and that is why it is a major part of the draft policy which is about to be considered by the Council."

Ends

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