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Aucklanders to take a punt at new gambling policy

Aucklanders to take a punt at new gambling policy

Aucklanders are being asked to have their say on Auckland City’s new draft gambling venue policy that restricts the number of electronic gaming machines, commonly called pokies.

The new policy is a requirement under the Gambling Act, passed into law on 19 September 2003. Under the Act, councils are required to adopt a policy for class four gambling venues. Class four gambling is defined as any activity that involves the use of a gaming machine outside a casino. Class four gaming may only be conducted by a corporate society and only to raise money for community purposes.

Auckland City’s draft gambling venue policy recommends that: the total number of venues at any one time must not exceed those currently existing. According to the Department of Internal Affairs, Auckland city currently has 163 class four gambling venues. A new class four venue can, therefore, only establish when an existing venue closes down the location of any new venues and venues licensed after 17 October 2001 be restricted to certain parts of the central city the total number of electronic gaming machines in each venue can not exceed those currently existing. According to the Department of Internal Affairs there are currently 1959 electronic gaming machines located in class four venues throughout the city new class four venues and venues licensed after 17 October 2001 are subject to signage restrictions new class four venues and venues licensed after 17 October 2001 are prohibited from existing or establishing on council owned land class four venues must be a premise licensed under the Sale of Liquor Act 1989 with a restricted designation or a tavern or club license societies operating class four venues are required to provide council with a report on how revenue raised at the venue has been distributed New Zealand Racing Board venues (stand alone TAB agencies) with, or proposing to have, electronic gaming machines are treated the same as all other class four gambling venues, but are not required to hold a liquor licence TABs without electronic gaming machines can establish within Auckland city provided they comply with relevant district plan rules, bylaws and fee and application requirements. The chairperson of the City Development Committee, Councillor Juliet Yates, says it is crucial that Aucklanders review the draft policy and tell the council of any concerns.

“This is an important opportunity for people to have their say about the availability of gambling in their city.”

Mrs Yates says the policy’s main objectives are to control the growth of gambling in Auckland City and to minimise the harm caused by gambling.

“Those who are legally entitled to use gaming machines and TAB services should be able to do so if they wish and do so safely. Since the profits from gaming machines are meant to be spent in the community, the council wants co-operation with Internal Affairs who administer the Act, so that funds raised within Auckland City are distributed fairly for the benefit of the city’s communities,” she says.

The Gambling Act requires councils to consider the social impacts gambling has on the community when developing their policies.

To this end, Auckland City along with the other six councils in the Auckland region commissioned a regional impact assessment report. Auckland City officers also met with key stakeholders such as gambling trusts, TAB, relevant social services, Maori and community groups before drafting the policy. The public is able to make written submissions on the draft policy from 16 February to 16 March 2004. Oral hearings will be held in early April.

Details of the policy may change as a consequence of this consultation process.

Copies of the draft policy and impact assessment report are available from the city’s libraries; the ground floor of the civic building, 1 Greys Avenue, Auckland city; http://www.aucklandcity.govt.nz or by phoning Auckland City on (09) 379 2020.

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