Putting a lid on gambling venues

By Te Kuru o te Marama Dewes

The Gisborne District Council is proposing new changes to the region's gambling venue policy in an attempt to minimise the harm caused by problem gambling.

There are currently 180 'pokies' in the Gisborne area, but no face-to-face support services for problem gambling.

“It is a step forward and we've been waiting for this for our area," says Elizabeth Crawford, Chairperson at Ka Pai Kaiti, "It is a vulnerable area so tightening up that policy, especially with no service in place, we agree with that.”

The draft policy seeks to prohibit Class 4 gambling [gaming machine] venues from relocating.

“I've been in gambling harm support services for seven years, and this is the best tighten up that I've seen on policy,” says Crawford.

A 'sinking lid' approach will be applied to TABs- there is one remaining in Gisborne and under the draft policy no others will be permitted, and the existing venue will have no option to relocate.

“So that policy is starting to align, before it was more like a cap but under the current draft policy, adopting a sinking lid across the entire policy, so that includes board venues as well as class 4 venues,” says Crawford.

The council is required by the Gambling Act 2003 and Racing Act 2003 to review the gambling venue policy every three years.

Crawford says, “So that's our goal that we've put out there in our community, that we'd like to see all the pokies in this region out of here in the next three years.”

Submissions to the review of the gambling venue policy close tomorrow (9 April) at 4pm.