‘Sinking lid’ pokie policy rejected

A sinking lid policy does not necessarily stop problem gambling in Central Otago, Central Otago district councillors have heard.

The council on Wednesday chose to adopt its class 4 gambling and board venue policy 2020 with no sinking lid clause after considering submissions.

Public Health South and the New Zealand Community Trust spoke via online conferencing while two further submissions — from The Southern Trust and the Problem Gambling Foundation — were also tabled.

A sinking lid policy, touted as a way of reducing problem gambling, would mean no new licences for poker machines could be issued, and gaming machines could not be transferred to a new pub or owner if a venue closed.

Public Health South health promotion adviser David Pirie said a sinking lid clause would be consistent with other southern authorities — Southland, Invercargill and Dunedin — and that continuation of the current policy to permit existing class 4 gambling venues to relocate was not supported.

A sinking lid policy meant the machines would gradually "cease to be available", Mr Pirie said.

Central Otago Mayor Tim Cadogan said people with gambling problems would simply travel further and that adding a sinking lid clause would not necessarily address the issue.

New Zealand Community Trust communications manager Tanya Piejus said council gambling venue policies were critical to allowing community funding from gaming trusts to be sustainable.

Sinking lid and no relocation policies destroyed that; problem gambling only affected 0.2% of New Zealand’s population, and reducing the number of machines had no impact on problem gambling, she said.

The trust had returned $459,000 in the year to January back into the Central Otago community, she said.

The council voted to implement the policy without a sinking lid amendment for the next three years.

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