Revision on ‘pokies’

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The Waitaki District Council is to reconfirm whether or not to allow New Zealand Racing Board venues to host Class 4 gambling machines.

The council’s customer services committee has recommended the council confirm its intentions as part of its Class 4 Gambling Venues and TAB Venues Policy, which was put out for public consultation between September 18 and October 20, 2014.

The Department of Internal Affairs lists the use of pokie machines found in pubs and clubs as class 4 gambling, which is considered to be high-risk and high-turnover gambling, under the Gambling Act 2003.

The council is required to review its Class 4 Gambling and TAB Venues Policy every three years, in accordance with the Act.

At the committee’s meeting on November 26, several issues with the policy were identified in public submissions, such as the need to clarify provisions related to TAB venues, whether to include provisions for the relocation of premises and club mergers and to consider further harm-prevention measures identified by the Southern District Health Board.

The decision is key to confirm the next steps for the plan.

Last November, the council agreed to include provisions for relocation and club mergers, but declined to consider further harm-reduction measures.

It amended its gambling venues policy to allow New Zealand Racing Board venues to act as Class 4 gambling venues, as long as all other conditions were met.

However, this amendment made at the time was considered insufficient to reflect the decision related to the provisions.

The committee has recommended the council reconfirm its intent and go out for further consultation with the community on the amended policy.

It would also allow council to address the other issues raised during the public consultation, and clarify the status of TAB venues.

By Daniel Birchfield