1 Sep 2009

Auckland reconsiders gambling venue limit

3:07 pm on 1 September 2009

Auckland City Council is considering relaxing its 'sinking lid' policy on gambling venues outside casinos.

The council is currently unable to grant new gaming licences but a new proposal is suggesting when one venue closes another should be able to replace it.

The draft policy, to be discussed at the council's community services committee meeting tomorrow, stipulates new venues should have fewer gaming machines than the last and not be in a low socio-economic area.

Problem Gambling Foundation chief executive Graeme Ramsey says the 1,400 poker machines in place at some 100 Auckland venues must be reduced.

Aucklanders lose $92 million a year on pokies, he says, and his greatest fear is that the council's measures will fail to reduce this figure, and the social harm that goes with it.

Councillor Cathy Casey says the council has a moral obligation to do what it can to curb problem gambling.

However, councillor John Lister says the council should not be telling people how to live their lives. Money gathered from gaming machines by pub charities benefits the community, he says.