9 Mar 2012

Council discusses future of gambling

Nelson City Council held a special workshop yesterday on its Gambling Policy and the issue of class 4 gaming machines or “pokies”.

The workshop was held to discuss reviewing the 2007 Gambling Policy, and the changes councillors might wish to see. Many Councillors supported a ‘sinking lid’ for the number of pokies in Nelson which would eventually see the elimination of all pokies from Nelson as no new licenses would be issued.

Governance Portfolio Holder Councillor Ian Barker says the workshop was held because of the high level of public interest in the issue. “We are informed that this type of gambling has consistently been shown to have the most associated problem gambling.

“However, we’re also aware that about a quarter of the revenue from local pokie machines is returned to the Nelson community, and this would reduce the amount of funding available to the community over time. We’re very interested to hear what the community thinks.”

The Council last reviewed its Gambling Policy in 2010, but a High Court ruling in 2011 decided amendments to the policy were invalid. As a result, the previous policy, established in 2007, remains in place until the review is completed.

“We are bearing in mind last year’s Court decision and taking all measures to ensure the community’s view is heard,” says Mr Barker.

The next steps are for staff to seek feedback from stakeholders on the sinking lid approach, then to prepare a draft policy for Council to consider. Once Council has agreed on a draft policy this will go through a full community consultation with public hearings. Council will take the community feedback into account in making amendments to the draft policy before it is finally adopted.

Contact Nicky McDonald, Manager Policy and Planning, phone 03 546 0420 or mobile 027 837 7921