New Zealand district aims to reduce number of slot machines

The Mackenzie District wants to gradually lower the number of slots.
The Mackenzie District wants to gradually lower the number of slots.

Mackenzie Council has approved a proposal to reduce the number of slot machines in the district.

New Zealand.- Mackenzie District Council has voted to update its current law to limit the number of slot machines, or “pokies” through the creation of a “sinking lid.”

The process would mean that when a gambling venue closes it cannot be replaced by another, so the number of slots in the district will gradually be reduced.

According to local media reports, the Mackenzie District has only 36 gambling machines in operation and the council is processing consent applications for another nine. The limit is currently 65.

The proposal would ultimately lower the number of poker machines to 45. Councillor Stuart Barwood said he would support the proposal, but only if it applies to businesses that close completely rather than change management.

However, councillor Matt Murphy questioned the need for slot machines. He said: “I’d argue that there are very few benefits to the communities within our district by having gaming machines. 

The proposal passed after a 3-2 vote and will go to a public consultation before coming back to the council to be formally adopted.

Casinos’ charity requirements to be reviewed

In May, the New Zealand Gambling Commission started to analyse casinos’ charity requirements after noting that some casino operators give only 0.7 per cent of their profits to charity.

The proportion of donations contrasts with those required of the operators of pokies in pubs and clubs, which are required to give away around 40 per cent of their proceeds as community grants.

The casino charity requirement review was criticised by Andree Froude at the Problem Gambling Foundation, who said the New Zealand Gambling Commission should focus on ensuring casinos are delivering effective responsibility programmes.

According to Stuff newspaper, she said: “Using gambling money to fund charities created a cycle of reliance, which happened with class four gambling (pokies in pubs, clubs and TABs).

“No amount of charity makes up for the harm caused by gambling, and we need to focus on where the money is coming from, often the most vulnerable in our society, and not where it is going.”

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