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Tokoroa group disappointed with Council decision

Date: 07/07/2018

Tokoroa group disappointed Council voted down community’s preferred pokies policy

Tokoroa community group, ‘Feed Families Not Pokies’ is disappointed that the South Waikato District Council recently voted to keep its existing gambling policy despite the majority of submitters favouring a strengthened sinking lid policy on pokie machines.

Colin Bridle, spokesperson for Feed Families Not Pokies, a recently formed Incorporated Society, said the majority of people 67.5% that made a submissions to the Council wanted to see a true sinking lid, which would mean no relocations and no club mergers under any circumstances.

“There were 154 submissions made to the Council and 104 of those were in favour of a true sinking lid policy which is a much stronger policy than the one the Council has adopted.”

“The existing policy just does not go far enough to reduce the harm from pokie machines in our community,” he said.

Colin Bridle said the community support has been incredible and he wants to thank everyone who expressed concern to the Council about the harms caused by pokie machines in South Waikato.

“The Council has chosen not to listen to the majority of submitters, instead supporting the 6.5% of submissions that favoured the status quo.”

“However, the community really got behind us and did what they could to help reduce the numbers of these addictive machines that fuel poverty and cause so much harm to our whanau, workmates and friends,” he said.

Colin Bridle said ‘Feed Families Not Pokies’ will explore what opportunities exist to ensure the South Waikato District Council gambling policy review 2018 in its entirety was fair.

“The Gambling Act 2003 says that all local authorities throughout New Zealand must review their Gambling Class 4 policies and Racing Board Venue policies within three years but that doesn’t mean our Council must wait until 2021,” he said.

“If our communities are not happy with the existing policy, we need to stand together and ask our Council to review this policy in 2019. Let’s ensure our voice is heard. If our Council adopt a strong policy that supports reducing pokie machine and venue numbers in our communities and towns, it can only benefit the health and wellbeing of families, of whānau now and into the future.”

The ‘Feed Families Not Pokies’ Incorporated Society was established to try and prevent Pockets 8 Ball Club merging with two other clubs and opening a new 30 pokie machine venue on Bridge Street Tokoroa.

The Department of Internal Affairs is in the process of issuing the licenses the venue needs to begin operating.

Donations to the cause can be made on the Givealittle page https://givealittle.co.nz/cause/feed-families-not-pokies-stop-the-mini-casino

For anyone wanting free counselling support for their own or someone else’s gambling, contact the Problem Gambling Foundation 0800 664 262 or the Gambling Helpline 0800 654 655 or Text 8006.


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