New Zealand’s Waimate Council approves sinking lid policy for slots
The new rules will limit the number of slot machines in the district but will allow local gambling venues to relocate.
New Zealand.- Councillors in the Waimate District have approved a new “sinking lid” gambling policy, which replaces the previous Gambling Venue Policy 2018 and TAB Board Venue Policy 2018.
The policy limits the number of gaming machines operating in the district and prevents new class 4 (non-casino) or TAB venues from opening but it allows existing venues to relocate under certain conditions.
The change follows a report by the council’s community and strategy group manager, Carolyn Johns. The previous policy had a cap of 20 gaming machines and did not permit the relocation of venues. The sinking lid policy will reduce the cap on the number of machines when a venue surrenders its licence. The council agreed to retain rules that prevent consents for new venues.
When the new policy was sent out for public consultation, all four submissions received supported the preferred option of a sinking lid policy. Two submissions, from Te Mana Ora (community and public health) and The Salvation Army Oasis, opposed allowing the relocation of venues, citing concerns about the potential for harm to be transferred to other areas.
Te Mana Ora said it “strongly” supported a sinking lid policy to “better protect the community”. It added that 29 of New Zealand’s 67 territorial authorities have similar policies and that this is the “strongest policy available” to gradually reduce pokie machines and the harm they cause.
See also: NZ district introduces a new gambling harm policy
Last year, the Department of Internal Affairs (DIA) reported that players on slot machines in South Canterbury lost nearly $12m in 2021, with the bulk going to Timaru slot machines. There were two gaming venues in Waimate with gaming machines that lost more than half a million dollars in 2021, with 16 pokie machines taking in $608,377. Both venues are in very deprived areas, according to the DIA.
The Waimate has the lowest average slot machine payout in the Canterbury region in 2021 at $98.11 per person. Nationwide, nearly $987m was lost on pokies in 2021.