Pokie plan opposition

Although the poker machines in Arrowtown do not appear to be used to capacity, more machines may exacerbate existing problems in the community, a submission against a proposal for nine new machines says.

Air Rescue Services operates gaming machines to raise funds for charitable and community organisations in Canterbury, Otago and Marlborough, as well as on the West Coast, and has applied to the Queenstown Lakes District Council to operate nine machines at Jonesy's Cafe and Bar.

At a hearing on Wednesday three submissions were heard against the proposal.

Arrowtown resident Gary Cody submitted the machines would be "unsympathetic to the character of Arrowtown" and harmful to the community, and there were already machines which were underused.

"Anyone who works in the counselling or community services field in Arrowtown can tell you there is an already existing underbelly in the region that is caught in the cycle of poverty, dysfunction, addiction and family breakdown and the myriad of associated issues," Mr Cody said.

"The trust that seems to be the one benefiting from the introduction of more machines is also far removed from any Arrowtown community interest. The present machines at least have more direct community needs and charities as benefactors, which I believe is more in line with the [Gambling] Act."

It was mentioned in all three submissions that Arrowtown already had nine machines at the New Orleans Hotel and submitters believed this was ample.

Thomas Dunbar submitted there were also machines in Frankton and an even larger number in central Queenstown.

"Gaming machines cause an incredible amount of harm in the community, hence the reason many district councils around New Zealand are listening to their communities and prohibiting new venues from obtaining licences," Mr Dunbar said in his submission.

"Isn't it time our council follows suit?"

The lawyer for Air Rescue Services, Shaun Cottrell, argued nine new machines would not create a concentration, rather it would give those interested a choice of venue.

Mr Cottrell noted two of the submitters "appear to be associated with the current monopoly venue in Arrowtown".

Councillors Leigh Overton and Mel Gazzard, conducting the hearings panel, adjourned the hearing pending more information from the applicant.




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