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Strong Community Support For Draft Gambling Policy

Strong Community Support For Draft Gambling Policy

Manukau City Council's proposed new gaming control policy has been strongly endorsed during two days of oral submissions heard by the Council.

Mayor Sir Barry Curtis says he is delighted at the overwhelming support giving to the draft policy which goes before the full Council this week for adoption.

The policy contains controls over where gambling venues can locate and how many gambling machines a licensed venue can have.

Sir Barry chaired the hearings. "The clear message I took from the hearings is that we got it right - and the policy is what the community wants. The Pacific community in particular was of one voice on the issue. They are saying tighter controls are needed and I am pleased that there will be a moratorium on pokie numbers because pokies are the major cause of addiction. We already have too many.

"Worse, I believe the city is being bled dry by this problem, with not enough of the funds raised by gambling being returned here."

There were 29 submitters heard out of a total of 147 submissions on the proposed policy with 92 supporting it without change. Those who suggested changes advocated minor changes.

The policy will introduce

" A freeze on the numbers of pokie machines " No new venue numbers " Tight zoning restrictions for venues, and no new venues in residential areas " No more stand-alone TABs (currently there are 11).

Sir Barry says, "I am appalled at the impact which uncontrolled gambling is having in parts of Manukau. Addiction is a large problem among low income communities, including Pacific and Maori families."

The gambling industry is now grossing over $10 billon per year in New Zealand and the losses (after taxes and winnings returned) are over $1.8 billion a year and rising fast. The biggest single area of losses is on pokies, followed by casinos.

By comparison, in 1981 the losses were just $180 million. It is estimated that of the $777 million spent nationally on pokie machines $219 million is returned to the Auckland region.

Sir Barry says the statistics on losses from gambling are sobering and show how fast problem gambling has spread in recent years in New Zealand after the controls were loosened and new forms of gambling allowed.

"It's also produced great concern in the community due to the resulting rise in gambling addiction and all the social effects that stem from it. We now have drawn a line in the sand and the new policy will be of great help in curbing the problem".

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