The Wairarapa Councils are currently reviewing their combined gambling venue policy. The current policy prevents any new gaming machine venue 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 the councils to modify the policy to allow one new venue to be established in both Masterton and South Wairarapa. 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. He refers to the social impact assessment report commission by the Councils that analysed all the relevant research and data. The key findings of the social impact assessment include:
In 2017-18, approximately $2.9m was received by Wairarapa community organisations from the local gaming societies;
- The Wairarapa adult population has increased by 6% since the last policy review;
- Gaming machine expenditure per person for the year to 31 December 2018 in Carterton, Masterson, and South Wairarapa was below the national average;
- Overall, the Wairarapa region scored 16 (out of 24) on the Ministry of Health gambling risk assessment scale, indicating that the overall level of gambling risk is medium, not high;
- The medium risk score suggests the Wairarapa is best suited to a policy that restricts locations and/or numbers of gaming machines but may not need to go as far as having a sinking lid;
- The Wairarapa community receives other benefits from gambling through employment opportunities in the gambling sector; and
- Gambling is a popular form of local entertainment.
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 gaming funding generated is used to support sports clubs such as Wairarapa United Football Club and Wairarapa Boxing Academy; community organisations such as Aratoi Regional Trust; local schools including Makoura College; local marae; and events such as Wings Over Wairarapa.
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 “make a submission” link on the home page of the council’s website. Submissions close 15 May 2019.
1 May 2019
Gaming Machine Association of New Zealand
027 440 0650