Gambling Venues Policy Submission

This is the text of our submission to WCC on this topic:

Submission on Wellington City Council Review of the Gambling Venues Policy 2010.  The Newtown Residents’ Association has been an Incorporated Society since July 1963.  We are residents and business owners from Newtown, Berhampore, Mt Cook and the surrounding suburbs, who take a keen interest in the community and local issues. We discussed this policy review at our monthly meeting on May 18th 2015. We wish to place on record our dismay at the harm caused to families in our community by problem gambling on ‘pokies’ – non-casino gaming machines. The WCC quotes a study published by the Ministry of Health that found that living in a neighbourhood closer to a NCGM venue was significantly associated with having gambled on an NCGM in the last year, and being a problem gambler who had gambled on an NCGM in the last year. The research also suggests that once there are gambling venues in an area the numbers of machines or venues has little additional effect. Our meeting unanimously supported advocating for a future in which we have an NCGM-free Southern Ward. Turning now to the specific policy areas that the WCC is proposing to change – We support placing maximum limits on the number of venues in all areas, and lowering the maximum allowed for in the 2010 policy. However we note that the proposed lower limits will not result in any actual decrease in the number of venues or NCGMs, they will just reduce the amount of increase allowed. In practice this will have little effect on our community, as the Southern area is very nearly at the limit of allowed machines now. We would go further than the current policy proposals – we advocate for a ‘sinking lid’ policy that does not allow any new licences and does not replace venues that close. In line with this, we do not support allowing venues to re-locate and take their existing entitlement of machines with them. We do not support removing the requirement that only premises with an alcohol on-licence can be NCGM venues. The policy document focuses on the purpose of this change being to allow TABs to have NCGMs, but we are concerned that it also opens the door to recreational facilities such as bowling alleys adding NCGMs to the attractions they offer. In considering the implications of this we note that page 6 of the consultation document states that the purposes of the Gambling Act 2003 that are most relevant to a Gambling Venues Policy are to:

  • control the growth of gambling
  • prevent and minimise the harm caused by gambling, including problem gambling
  • facilitate responsible gambling
  • ensure that money from gambling benefits the community
  • facilitate community involvement in decisions about the provision of gambling.

We consider that extending the range of venues with NCGMs goes against the first three of these, and increases the risk of introducing new gamblers to a potentially addictive and destructive activity.   The fourth of these purposes, ensuring that money from gambling benefits the community, is important to us.   We would prefer that our community was free of the damage that gambling causes. At the very least, in the existing situation, we expect to see money taken from machines in our suburb come back to our community in the form of grants for community purposes.   Thank you for your consideration of our submission. We request the opportunity to make an oral submission. Newtown Residents’ Association May 22nd 2015.