The sinking lid policy for pokie machines will stay intact as voted by Auckland Council.
The move was decided by the council’s Regulatory Committee. As per deputy chairperson Josephine Bartley, this move was necessary to prevent new pokies machines from sprouting all over the region.
“I’m pleased we’re keeping the sinking lid, but personally speaking, gambling causes so much harm … there is more that needs to be done,” she said. “More support is needed for addicts and their families.”
The measures were necessary as more than half the people in South Auckland are currently seeking treatment for gambling addiction. Just over half of them seeking help are pokie machine users.
As per the Gambling Act 2003, it is upto Auckland Council to have its own gambling venue policy. Under the policy, the council must decide how many new gambling venues can be established and where.
It was nearly seven years ago that the council had agreed to a sinking lid policy for Class 4 slot machine venues. Under this policy no new consents are to be awarded to new venues. Also slot machines cannot be transferred from one venue to another if it closes. This helps to keep the number of machines down.
However, many believe that the steps being taken by the council are not enough to curb problem gambling. Problem Gambling Foundation spokesperson Andree Froude claims the sinking lid policy is too slow and does not do enough to counter problem gambling.
However, Bartley in response to this ensures that all is being done within the legal framework to counter this problem.
“We passed the item and our only option was to retain the sinking lid to prevent further new licenses.”
Froude did admit that the council is restricted in what it can do.
“They are restricted in what they can do and it would be good if they had more powers. But sinking lids are as good as it gets.”
As per Froude, with these limitations in place, the council couldn’t shut down venues and instead to wait until they shut by themselves. She continued that while the Gambling Act 2003 had helped initially now the time has come to review and improve it.
Latest figures released by Department of Internal Affairs (DIA) show that the highest number of pokie machines and also expenditure on slots came from South Auckland.
A total of $1,759,727 on 198 machines was spent in Papakura while users in Manukau spent spent $2,710,110 on 180 machines.