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Auckland's First Gambling Venue Policy Adopted

23 April 2004

NEW ZEALAND – (PRESS RELEASE) -- Auckland City's new gambling and New Zealand Racing Board (TAB) venue policy was adopted at tonight's council meeting.

The policy, which limits the number of electronic gaming machines (pokies) in the city, comes into force immediately.

During the special consultative process, Auckland City received 137 submissions to the draft policy.

The chairperson of the City Development Committee, Councillor Juliet Yates, says the submissions received were instrumental in providing the council with a greater understanding of the community's views on this important issue.

"It has not been an easy task for the council, but having considered all the submissions the council is convinced that the policy objectives of harm minimisation and gambling choice have been achieved," she says.

"The original draft of the gambling venue policy required all new venues and venues licensed after 17 October 2001 to locate in certain parts of the CBD. If this draft of the policy had been adopted, the 26 suburban venues faced with a loss of machines would have faced financial difficulties, there would have been the cumulative effects of concentrating gambling venues and brothels in the CBD, the possible creation of a black market and a limited gambling choice for Auckland city residents, Mrs Yates says.

The new policy is a requirement under the Gambling Act, which passed into law on 19 September 2003. Under the Act, councils are required to adopt a policy for class four gambling venues. Class four gambling is defined as any activity that involves the use of a gaming machine outside a casino. Class four gaming may only be conducted by a corporate society and only to raise money for community purposes.

" While the spread of poker machines may have been intended as a source of income for charities, in this new law Parliament has recognised the harm of problem gambling and the damage that could result from uncontrolled numbers of machines and gaming venues," says Mrs Yates.

Auckland City's class four gambling venue policy states:

-the council will not grant consent for any new class four gambling venues in the city,

-the total number of electronic gaming machines in each venue can not exceed those authorised by licenses in Auckland city by 22 September 2003. There are currently 1959 electronic gaming machines located in class four venues throughout the city

-the gaming machines may not be visible from the street, road or highway

-signs advertising a class four venue must not exceed one metre by 0.3 metres in size; be illuminated by flashing lights or contain neon lighting, or be visible from a residential area

-signs, including sandwich boards, that can be seen from outside the venue must not include prize money advertising of any description.

Auckland City's TAB venue policy states:

-the council will not grant consent for any new TAB venues

-TABs with electronic gaming machines are treated the same as all other class four gambling venues, but are not required to hold a liquor licence

The policy and supporting documents can be viewed in all community libraries, Auckland Central Library and on Auckland City's website

The policy will be reviewed every three years.

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