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Media Statement - Southland District Gambling Venue Policy Review


For immediate release

$1m in Community Funding, 1 Problem Gambler Seeks Treatment: Time to Change Southland District’s Gambling Venue Policy

The Southland District Council is currently reviewing its gambling venue policy.  The current policy prevents any new gaming machine venues being established.

The Gaming Machine Association of New Zealand is urging council to modify the policy to replace the existing sinking lid approach with a cap at current numbers.  

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).  

In 2003, the Southland District had 191 gaming machines.  The district currently only has 88 gaming machines (a 54% reduction).

The Ministry of Health keeps a record of the number of people in each territorial authority that seek help via phone, text, email or the face-to-face counselling services that are available.  The most recently available data (the year from July 2017 to June 2018) shows that only 1 new person from the Southland District sought help for problem gambling.  

Playing a gaming machine at one of the local gaming venues is, however, a popular form of entertainment, which generates over $1 million annually in community funding.

The gaming funding generated is used to support sports clubs such as Cycling Southland; community organisations such as the A & P Association and Parent to Parent; local schools including Central Southland College and Hedgehope School; and the Winton Volunteer Fire Brigade.

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 submissions to council detailing what they have been able to achieve with the funding obtained.  Submissions can be made on the policy by clicking the “my council” and “have your say” link on council’s website. Submissions close 21 June 2019.

12 June 2019

Media contact:

Bruce Robertson
Independent Chair
Gaming Machine Association of New Zealand
027 440 0650