Feedback sought on sinking lid pokie rule

The Waitaki District Council is considering introducing a sinking lid policy on gaming machines.

Consultation on the council’s class four gaming venue and TAB venue policy starts next week and five options will be presented to the community for feedback.

Gaming machines or "pokies" in pubs and clubs are classified as "class four" gambling, and the council is interested in exploring the sinking lid policy.

Under such a policy, no new licences for gaming machines can be issued, existing licences cannot be transferred to another location if a venue closes, and once a class four venue is closed, it cannot be reopened by another operator. It would prevent new gaming machine venues from opening, and reduce the number of gaming venues and machines in the district over time.

Waitaki Mayor Gary Kircher said there was "no doubt" many groups and organisations benefited from the funds coming from the machines, but it came at a social cost for the people who became addicted to them.

"Many people get to enjoy them as entertainment but, sadly, too many people are addicted as well," Mr Kircher said.

The other option being presented to the public includes keeping the status quo, which would mean the maximum limit of 140 gaming machines, and 22 venues and other restrictions, such as where in the district a venue can be established, would remain the same.

The council was not proposing to change its TAB venue policy, but two options would be presented as part of the consultation, which starts on Tuesday and closes on March 1.

"We welcome the opportunity to get public feedback on gaming machines, as an important part of the review on Waitaki’s bylaw," Mr Kircher said.

"Please take the time to have your say, good or bad, so we can make the best decision for our community."

The council must review its gambling policy every three years.

rebecca.ryan@odt.co.nz

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