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Legal challenge to Tokoroa ‘mini casino’

Community group to mount legal challenge to Tokoroa ‘mini casino’

A community group intends to take the government to court to stop a 30 machine pokie venue being created in Tokoroa.

The group has formed an incorporated society as a vehicle for taking legal action, and has started a Givealittle page to raise funds to help pay the cost.

Colin Bridle, spokesperson for the newly formed ‘Feed Families Not Pokies’ incorporated society, said they are united by their concern about the proposed 30 machine pokie venue and the harm it will cause in the community.

“We have gathered a lot of material under the Official Information Act and are very fortunate that a barrister and a senior policy analyst, who are both experts in this area of law, have reviewed all that material without charging us for their time,” he said.

“They advised us that there is a clear case for judicial review due to some significant flaws in the official decision-making processes.”

Under the Gambling Act a maximum of nine pokie machines are permitted in any new venue. However, a loophole in the Act means if RSAs and other genuine clubs merge there is a possibility of up to 30 machines being permitted in one venue.

Colin Bridle said the new venue proposed for Tokoroa exploits this loophole to create a mini casino.
“We don’t want to see a venue with 30 pokie machines in our community which is basically a commercial venture masquerading as a club,” he said.

One of the primary purposes of the Gambling Act (2003) is to prevent and minimise the harm from gambling.

Colin Bridle said they don’t believe the requirements of the Gambling Act have been adhered to in this case and the club merger allowing a mini casino certainly doesn’t support the purpose or intent of the Gambling Act (2003).

Tokoroa has 133 of South Waikato’s 178 pokie machines (or 74.72%) and with a spend of over $5 million over the last year accounts for 76.89% of the total spend for South Waikato District which sits at just over $7 million.

Colin Bridle said the Department of Internal Affairs is in the process of issuing the licences the venue needs to begin operating.

“We are determined to stop that happening and hope the government will stop the venue going ahead without the need for legal action. It is ridiculous that the community has to go to court, but we have no other option,” he said.

https://givealittle.co.nz/cause/feed-families-not-pokies-stop-the-mini-casino

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