Timaru District Council is currently reviewing its Class 4 gambling venue policy. The Council is receiving submissions on its proposed policy until 5pm on Friday 11 November 2022.
You can provide your feedback to the Council here.
What is the council proposing?
Timaru District Council has reviewed the Gambling Venue Policy and believes that no changes are necessary at this time. However, they have also listed introducing a sinking lid as a potential policy option for this review.
What do we think?
Timaru District Council is one of only six councils in New Zealand that has base requirements under the Gambling Act. This means the Council is not taking any further measures to restrict gambling activity and minimise any gambling harms within their district.
According to the Department of Internal Affairs, as at June 2022, Timaru has 13 Class 4 venues and 166 pokies in the district. The Council’s current policy allows for more venues to open and more pokies to be installed. Given that Timaru has the highest spend on pokies per adult in the Canterbury region, we are encouraging Council to adopt a sinking lid policy and prohibit relocations or club mergers. A sinking lid is the best policy to control the growth of gambling and minimise harm.
32 of the 67 TLAs around New Zealand have already introduced sinking lid policies. This is partly driven by strong public opinion about harm and partly TLA’s concern to promote community wellbeing. This is consistent with the purpose of the Gambling Act 2003 and section 4 where the definition of gambling harm includes harm to society at large.
Our recommendations on pokie policies
PGF Group recommends that Gambling Venue policies should include the following three provisions:
According to the Department of Internal Affairs, as at 31 December 2021, around $10 million was lost on pokies in Timaru alone. In 2020, $8.7 million was lost on pokies.
Pokie trusts operate pokie machines in pubs, clubs and TABs. The trusts, their machines and the pubs, clubs and TABs that operate them make up the Class 4 gambling sector. It does not include casino pokies.
A sinking lid policy means that when an existing Class 4 pokie venue closes, consent for another to be established will not be given. It also means that a venue cannot increase its number of pokie machines, and that if a venue's license conditions change to reduce the maximum number of machines that it can operate, then it cannot apply to increase this number again at a later date.
In effect, it means no new pokies. Over time this will lead to a decrease in the number of venues and machines in our communities.
Under the Gambling Act 2003, Territorial Local Authorities (TLAs or Councils) are required to set local policy controlling the number and location of Class 4 gambling venues and pokie machines. These policies must be reviewed every three years, and if any changes are proposed to the policy those changes must be taken to their community for consultation and feedback.