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New Zealand: district council seeks controlled pokie expansion

Problem gambling groups have criticised the move.
Problem gambling groups have criticised the move.

The Ōtorohanga District Council wants to change its “sinking lid” policy on pokies in favour of a controlled increase in venues.

New Zealand.- The Ōtorohanga District Council had recently voted in favour of changing its gambling policy in order to allow a controlled increase in pokie venues.

The new policy seeks to approve new venues on a case-by-case basis, replacing the former “sinking lid” policy, that sought to gradually lower the number of pokie venues in the district.

Currently, there are 23 pokies in the Ōtorohanga District: 18 at the Ōtorohanga Club and five at the Kawhia Hotel. The number has remained the same for the past two reviews, which occurs every three years.

The proposed change in policy would allow an increase in the number of Class 4 (non-casino) gaming venues and electronic gaming machines in the district.

The district’s proposal is going in the other way compared to other jurisdictions, such as Wellington, which last year launched a consultation began to reduce the cap on pokie machines in the city.

the Problem Gambling Foundation has criticised the move. Marketing and communications director Andree Froude said: “it completely contravenes the Gambling Act because what [the council] are wanting to do is increase the growth of gambling, which completely goes against the spirit of the Act.”

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