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Council to decide on gaming machines policy

Press release 22 May 2006

Council to decide on gaming machines policy options

The City Council is to receive a report at its meeting on Thursday to help it decide which option to seek public consultation on for its new Gaming Venues Policy, six months before it is required to by law.

The Council will not make a final decision until submissions on the proposed policy are heard later this year.

The Council was told at a seminar in April that new Department of Internal Affairs (DIA) regulations - introduced since the Council adopted its 2004 policy - meant much of the Council policy is now no longer necessary.

The DIA measures have helped make gaming machines increasingly expensive and less viable to run for smaller operators.

Nationwide spending on gaming machines is still high, compared with other gambling options, but there has been a slight decline in growth since 2004. Since the Council policy was introduced, the DIA has brought in regulations around harm minimisation and prevention, and the types of premises allowed gaming machines.

Councillors will consider several options for their policy at the Council meeting. The options include:
a. status quo – retain the current council policy framework, without taking into account the new regulations
b. To have the Council policy set an upper limit on the number of machines, and venues with machines, as well as restrictions by the DIA, or
c. to permit only premises with a Sale of Liquor Licence and designated areas for machines to be venues for gambling machines. Such premises are controlled for environmental effects under the provisions of District Plans, and hours of operation under the Sale of Liquor Act 1989.

The option to be recommended to the Council by officers is C.

“The Council was required by law to develop its policy in 2004 and we did so on the basis of the rules that existed at the time. They have now changed. It makes sense to ensure that the Council’s policy is current and appropriate,” says Councillor Sue Wells.

Once the Council decides which is its preferred option, public feedback will be sought before the final decision is made in the latter half of this year.

ENDS

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