All submitters for gambling policy

The Central Otago District Council is surprised a review of its gambling venue policy failed to attract any response from the "anti-gambling lobby".

Nine submissions on the review were considered by the council at its meeting yesterday, all of them highlighting the importance of funds to community groups from gaming proceeds.

"Where is the anti-gambling lobby?" asked Central Otago Mayor Tony Lepper.

Cr Gordon Stewart said the policy did not appear to be controversial, as there were no "negative" submissions.

Solicitor for the New Zealand Racing Board Jarrod True told the council the number of gaming machines in New Zealand had steadily declined since 2003, and Central Otago followed that trend.

In 2003, the country had 25,221 gaming machines, and in December 2010 there were 18,681.

Mr True said the Central Otago district had 23 class 4 (non casino electronic gaming machine) venues and 168 machines in 2003, and now had 16 venues and 139 machines.

The council's environmental health officer, Sarah Wilson, said all submissions recommended the status quo remain with respect to the number of gaming machines allowed. Any restrictive cap would reduce community funding opportunities and would not reduce problem gambling, the submitters said.

The current policy was open, with the establishment of new venues and the number of machines allowed limited only by the restrictions in the Gambling Act 2003.

The reviewed policy will allow new venues to have a maximum of nine electronic gaming machines. Venues with licences issued after October 17, 2001, are also allowed to operate up to nine machines, while venues that already held licences on October 17, 2001, can operate up to 18 machines.

Restrictions remain on where new venues are able to be established.

Representatives from Triathlon New Zealand Ltd, Chamber Music New Zealand, Coastguard, Sport Otago, St John southern region, Lion Foundation, New Zealand Community Trust and Pub Charity made submissions on the importance to the community of grants sourced from gaming machine profits. 


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