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The Responsible Gambling Bill Fails

The Responsible Gambling Bill Fails - Communities Must Have Right to Set Limits on Pokie Venues

Local Government New Zealand is disappointed the Responsible Gambling Bill fails to give councils the tools to deal with existing pokie venues, says Sue Piper, Local Government New Zealand National Councillor and spokesperson on gambling.

“New Zealand communities deserve the right to set limits on the number and location of gambling venues in their local areas. The Responsible Gambling Bill does not go far enough to deliver the tools to all local authorities to do this”, says Ms Piper.

“The Bill requires territorial local authorities to develop gaming venue policies to control the location and number of gaming venues established after October 2001, the date the Bill had its first reading”, says Ms Piper.

“However, it gives no power to local authorities, or their communities, to influence the location of existing venues or any new venue once established. Under the Bill venue consents are provided in perpetuity – regardless of community views.”

Ms Piper says that, on the one hand, the Bill requires territorial local authorities to develop, consult and adopt a gaming machine venue policy within six months of the Bill being enacted while, on the other, limits what this policy can influence.

“As a result, this Bill places local authorities, and their elected members, in an invidious position. While placing a responsibility on them to consult on draft venue policies, it fails to give them the necessary authority to act on the community’s wishes about where machines can be located.

She says Local Government New Zealand wanted an amendment to the Bill to give councils greater powers to influence over time the location and number of existing gaming venues, not just new venues, and had written to all MPs seeking support.

“A simple way of doing this would be for operators to show that their venues comply with the local authority gaming venue policy whenever they apply, or reapply, for an operator’s licence.”

“Local Government New Zealand knows there is increasing community concern and recognition that gambling is a major social problem in many parts of New Zealand.

Ms Piper thinks that community frustration at the number of pokie bars in their suburbs will be taken out on councils, rather than the Government which has failed to give the local government sector the authority to implement community views.

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