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Media Statement - Whangarei District Gambling Venue Policy Review

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Whangarei District Council Urged to Make an Evidence-Based Gambling Venue Policy Decision

The Whangarei District Council is currently reviewing its gambling venue policy.  The current policy prevents any new gaming machine venues being established and restricts relocation of existing venues to circumstances such as lease expiry, public works acquisition, and site redevelopment.

The Gaming Machine Association of New Zealand is urging council to modify the policy to replace the sinking lid with a cap at current numbers.  The Association is also requesting that existing hospitality venues be able to move to buildings that have a higher earthquake rating; to new, modern premises; and if the landlord is imposing unreasonable terms.

Mr Robertson asked that a balanced, evidence-based decision be made.  The evidence does not support the continuation of a sinking lid 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 (4,618 gaming machines have been removed from the New Zealand market).  

Playing a gaming machine at one of the local gaming venues is, however, a popular form of entertainment, which generates over $6.7 million annually in community funding.

The gaming funding generated is used to support sports clubs such as Northland Rugby Union, Whangarei Academy of Gymnastics, and Northland Badminton Association; community organisations such as Whangarei Budgeting Service; and local schools including Kamo Intermediate School and Kamo High School.

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 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 “say it” link on the home page of the council’s website. Submissions close 31 May 2019.

15 May 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