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New draft gambling venue policy

New draft gambling venue policy

No new bars or clubs in North Shore City will be allowed to have electronic gaming or pokie machines if a new draft gambling venue policy is adopted.

The policy, considered at the council's strategy and finance committee meeting yesterday (February 17), aims to curb the spread of gambling and minimise the social harm caused by it.

Deputy mayor Dianne Hale says it has been proven that gambling is addictive to a small proportion of the population, but recognises that the machines can also have a positive purpose.

"A percentage of money which is fed into these machines is given back to all sectors of the community," she says.

"Often it's used to fund sport at a grass roots level, and we don't want to put a stop to that, particularly with the demise of the Hillary Commission which was a traditional source of funding."

Consequently, the new policy, required under the Gambling Act 2003, allows the 50 venues across North Shore City that currently have gaming machines to continue operating them.

However, there will be no more licences approved, and those issued after October 17, 2001 will have to cut the number of gaming machines down to nine, instead of 18.

Venues licensed before that date would not be allowed to increase the number of machines they already have.

That means the opportunities for recreational gambling in North Shore City remain the same, as does the level of funding for community grants.

The rapid growth in gambling nationally has been closely associated with the spread of gaming machines within communities.

On average 630 North Shore residents ring the gambling helpline a year, the largest proportion of them aged between 20 and 39.

Analysis of grants given out in North Shore City last year by the six main national trusts showed about 56 per cent of the $4.2m went to sports activities, and about 25 per cent to education.

The council will decide on whether to adopt the draft gambling venue policy only after the public has had a chance to make submissions on it in mid March.

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