Skip to main content


Media Statement - Tasman District Council Gambling Venue Policy Review

Back to list view

Concern that Tasman District Council’s Proposed New Gambling Venue Policy Will Accelerate the Growth of Online Gambling

For immediate release

Concern that Tasman District Council’s Proposed New Gambling Venue Policy Will Accelerate the Growth of Online Gambling 

In the same week that SkyCity launched its offshore-based online casino, the Tasman District Council has proposed a new policy that will prevent any new gaming machine venue being established in the District.  In a statement, Gaming Machine Association chair, Bruce Robertson, warned that the proposed new restrictions would not help to reduce problem gambling, but would accelerate the migration of the gambling spend to offshore internet- and mobile-based offerings. 

While it is illegal to advertise overseas gambling in New Zealand, it is not illegal to participate in gambling on an overseas-based website or mobile phone application.  Mr Robertson commented that offshore-based online gambling poses considerable risks because it is highly accessible, being available 24 hours a day from the comfort and privacy of your home.  In contrast to gaming venues, offshore-based online gambling does not generate any community funding for New Zealanders, no tax revenue is generated for the New Zealand Government, and no contributions are made to problem gambling treatment providers via the problem gambling levy.

Clubs and community groups currently receive approximately $3.2 million a year from the gaming machines located in the district’s 13 gaming venues.

The gaming funding generated supports a wide range of community groups, including sports clubs, community theatres, schools, and the local coastguard service.  Mr Robertson stated that although these organisations find the funding extremely valuable, there is little publicity around the benefit that comes from gaming grants.  

Mr Robertson urged community groups to make a submission to council detailing what they have been able to achieve with the funding obtained.  Submissions can be made on the policy by clicking the “online feedback” link on the home page of the Tasman District Council’s website. Submissions close 13 September 2019.

Mr Robertson’s own submission asked council to retain the current gaming machine cap that allows for a small amount of additional growth, given the significant measures that are now in place to minimise the harm from gaming machines and the high demand for community funding.

Mr Robertson’s submission also asks council to adopt a relocation provision that enables gaming venues to move to new, modern premises, to move to buildings that have a higher earthquake rating, and to move if the current landlord is imposing unreasonable terms. 

Mr Robertson warned that erosion of the community funding infrastructure was leading to more and more grant applications being declined, due to a lack of available funds for distribution. 

The New Zealand National Gambling Study: Wave 3 (2014) noted that the problem gambling rate had remained the same over the previous 10-15 years, despite gaming machine numbers decreasing.  

13 August 2019

Media contact:

Bruce Robertson

Independent Chair

Gaming Machine Association of New Zealand

[email protected]

027 440 0650

The Gaming Machine Association of New Zealand represents the vast majority of the gaming machine societies that operate in New Zealand.