Wellington wants to reduce the cap on the amount of machines allowed but some question the effectiveness in reducing gambling issues.
New Zealand.- The capital, Wellington, is considering lowering the cap on pokie machines in the city.
The current cap allows for 747 pokie machines in Wellington, and although there are only 633 in operation at 40 venues across the city, proposals are being considered to lower the cap to 660.
The proposal comes in a document from the Problem Gambling Foundation that was put to consultation by the city council.
Another proposal under discussion is a sinking lid policy under which when an existing pokies venue shuts down, the council would not authorise a new one nor allow other venues to increase their number of machines.
Over NZ$100,000 (US$66,034) is spent on class four pokie machines in the capital every day, Scoop NZ reported.
The Problem Gambling Foundation says half of people who seek professional help for gambling have a class 4 addiction.
Salvation Army captain Joe Serevi also claimed at the council meeting that half of pokie venues are in areas of medium-high deprivation, and that another 13 are in areas of medium deprivation.
He argued that pokies should be removed from such areas because the people gambling cannot afford to lose money, which is affecting their family’s finances.
Others don’t believe in the logic of introducing a sinking lid policy when the number of venues has already declined over the past 15 years, although spending over the period has remained the same.
They argue the money venues contribute to the health sector would dry up, noting that currently each venue contributes around NZ$10,000 (US$6,600).
From 2017 to 2018, more than NZ$60 million (US$39.6 million) of proceeds was given out in grants to 12 societies across the Wellington region.