Gisborne District Council Votes on New Policy Restricting Gambling

The Gisborne District, in the north-east, is discussing new restrictions on the number of gambling machines. The new draft policy is an attempt to minimize the negative impacts of problem gambling in the area. The draft policy by the Gisborne District proposes limiting the racing board venues to just one and prohibiting relocating gambling venues.

Gisborne District Council logo

Currently, the local council of Gisborne District is reviewing its Gambling Venue policy as required by the Racing Act of 2003 and the Gambling Act of 2003. Furthermore, the district council will hold a public hearing on Wednesday, 8 May. Community members and stakeholders will be able to comment on the proposed updated policy. The deadline for written submission passed on 8 April.

Updating the Sinking Lid Policy

The Gisborne District currently has 12 Class 4 Gambling venues which have 180 gambling machines between them. According to the latest Department of Internal Affairs’ (DIA) Class 4 Gambling Report, in 2017 there were 4.1 electronic gaming machines (EGM) per 1,000 people in the Gisborne District. This is an average ratio when compared to other districts across New Zealand. For example, Auckland has the lowest with 2.4 machines per 1,000 people. While the West Coast has the highest ratio with 7.1 EGM per 1,000 people.

The updated draft policy of the Gisborne District isn’t reducing the number of machines in the area. Instead, it’s maintaining the so-called sinking lid policy which is being explored in other districts across New Zealand. It applies to Class 4 machines, and it has stopped accepting requests for licenses for new pokie machines and gambling venues. If the amended policy receives approval, it will also include a ban on the opening of new TABs in Gisborne. Currently, there’s only one in the district and can’t relocate.

Gisborne District Lacks Problem Gambling Support and Prevention Services

Approved in 2015, the Gisborne District’s existing Gambling Venue policy needs to be reassessed and revised every three years. In lieu of the newly proposed policy, the Gisborne District published several conclusions it made for its short review. Firstly, there is a decrease in the number of gambling venues in the district as compared to several years ago. However, it has also been noticed that revenue from gambling machines has increased. This places the district 19th out of 67 districts across the country in terms of gambling loss per head. Here, people have lost $88.03 on average to pokies.

Thirdly, the district also said that there is still no dedicated support and prevention service for those battling with gambling addiction and other kinds of problem gambling behaviour. Moreover, this makes gathering data on the rates and severity of the problem in Gisborne District very difficult.

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