Wednesday 16. March, 2016

Tauranga Council Cuts Pokie Numbers

Tauranga City Council members have voted on the number of pokie machines available in the council, with the decision to cut the ratio between poker machines and population.

At a vote of 6-4, the council decided to reduce the ratio of poker machines to population from one machine per 147 people in Tauranga to one machine per 220 people. This cap brings the number of machines operating in the city closer to the 541 that are currently operating, as opposed to the 821 that are allowed to operate.

However, a number of council members were not satisfied with this outcome, saying it did not reduce the harm of pokies and was off from the sinking lid policy called for by the Salvation Army and the Problem Gambling Foundation.

According to Councillor John Robson, changing the ratio to impact 300 machines that don’t operate anyway in no way reduces harm. “It seems to me that we are effectively doing nothing and going against the spirit of the Act to reduce harm.”

However, other councillors countered this claim by arguing that the council is already investing in measures to reduce harm and this is one more balanced measure to help.

Mayor Stuart Crosby said that there would always be people who would succumb to problem gambling, especially with the rise of online gambling which the council could not control.

Darryl Wesley, the Salvation Army’s Tauranga Bridge and Oasis manager said that they welcomed the decision which was a step forward, but they would be happy to see a total cap implemented.

“We are supportive of anything that cuts access to gambling machines, but we would really love to see a sinking lid policy,” Crosby said.


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