Dunedin City Council staff are again recommending the council
sticks with the status quo on gaming venues and machines in
the city, rather than adopting a sinking-lid policy.
Since October 2001, the number of poker machine venues in
Dunedin had declined from about 70 to just over 40 by
November last year. During the same period, the number of
machines, which peaked at more than 800 in 2005, declined
from 700 to slightly more than 500.
Spending had tended to fluctuate between $4.4 million and
$5.6 million in the past five years regardless of the number
In 2010, when Dunedin's gambling and TAB venue policy was
last reviewed, councillors stuck with the policy - no limits
on venue and gambling machine numbers, but a ban on
establishing them in residential or recreational areas unless
they were for organised sporting purposes - despite having
received 815 submissions overwhelmingly in favour of changing
to a sinking-lid policy.
The steady decline in numbers under the existing policy was
the reason for not changing.
A report from council liquor licensing and projects officer
Kevin Mechen to the planning and environment committee
meeting tomorrow said since the last review staff had
monitored venue and gaming machine activity and
The policy's objectives to reduce the number of venues and
gaming machines in the district were being achieved and the
decline continued, which was why staff believed there was no
reason to change the policy.
It was recognised the no-change approach risked the council
being seen as ignoring those in the community who had
developed gambling problems, but the council needed to
balance the legal right of gaming societies to operate
against the harm gambling caused.
Current research indicated it was accessibility to venues
rather than the number of venues which had the greatest
influence on how much harm was caused and the council's
policy addressed that by prohibiting new venues in
Sticking with the status quo would have the advantage of
being seen to be supportive of community groups dependent on
grants from gaming societies.
Councillors could, however, decide to cap the number of
venues and/or gaming machines in the city, which would have a
negative effect on the industry, which was legally allowed to
operate, or adopt a a sinking-lid policy, which could lead
operators to closing unprofitable venues, thus reducing the
amount of money returned to the community, the report said.
Submissions on the policy would open on April 8 and close on