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Gambling Act provides legal levers for control of pokies

Gambling Act already provides legal levers for control of pokie numbers in communities

Tokoroa’s Feed Families Not Pokies Incorporated Society says the Gambling Act already provides the legal means to regulate numbers of pokie machines in New Zealand, following calls from Local Government New Zealand for councils and communities to have more control over decisions about gambling.

Colin Bridle, spokesperson for the Tokoroa-based group, says the legal levers are available within the current law.

“Although this section has never been used before, under the Gambling Act the maximum number of pokies that may be operated in New Zealand or any area within New Zealand can be prescribed,” he says.

Section 314 (1) of the Gambling Act states ‘The Governor-General may, by Order in Council made on the recommendation of the Minister, make regulations for all or any of the following purposes: (a) prescribing the maximum number of gaming machines that may be operated in New Zealand or any area within New Zealand (or both)’.

Dave Cull, President of Local Government New Zealand (LGNZ), stated on TVNZ Breakfast today that LGNZ would like to see communities empowered to make decisions about gambling in their area themselves without having to adhere to a ‘one size fits all’ policy that comes out of Wellington.

Colin Bridle says they applaud Dave Cull for raising this important issue as the greatest proliferation of pokies and venues is in high deprivation areas and communities should be able to have more say on pokie numbers.

“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,” he says.

“Pokies fuel poverty in our community and lead to children going without food, clothing, proper healthcare and a stable home environment.”

“We know we’re not the only community that wants to reduce pokie numbers, or get rid of them altogether, so we urge LGNZ to ask the Minister to use the Gambling Act as it is intended; to reduce gambling harm, particularly within high deprivation communities, and assist with reducing the rate of child poverty in our communities.

“Section 314 of the Gambling Act is the ultimate harm minimisation policy,” he says.

Ends

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