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Media Statement – Timaru District Gambling Venue Policy Review

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Community Participation Urged in the Timaru District Council’s Upcoming Gaming Machine Policy Review

Community Participation Urged in the Timaru District Council’s Upcoming Gaming Machine Policy Review

Sports clubs and community groups are being urged to have their say in the upcoming Timaru District Council gambling venue policy review.  Gaming machine grants made to the Canterbury region in 2018 totalled $31 million. The gaming funding supported sports clubs such as the Mackenzie Ice Hockey Club and the Twizel Rowing Club; events such as Aoraki Secondary School sports; and local schools such as Timaru Boys’ High School.

Bruce Robertson, representing the Gaming Machine Association of New Zealand (GMANZ), 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 “tell us” button on the home page of the Timaru District Council’s website.  Submissions close 11 November 2019.

Mr Robertson’s own submission asks council to retain the current open policy on gaming machine numbers and to introduce a policy that allows existing venues to relocate. 

Mr Robertson asked that a balanced, evidence-based decision be made.  The evidence does not support the introduction of a more restrictive policy.  There is no direct correlation between gaming machine numbers and problem gambling rates.  Over the last ten years, the problem gambling rate has remained the same, despite gaming machine numbers declining rapidly (4,472 gaming machines have been removed from the market).

In 2003, the Timaru District had 340 gaming machines.  The district currently only has 165 gaming machines (a 51% reduction).

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.  

Mr Robertson also warned that any further reduction in the local gaming machine offering may lead to a 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.

18 October 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.  

Source: GMANZ