Timaru District Council Gaming machines policy goes out for public consultation

The public will soon be able to have a say on Timaru's gambling venue policy, as the district council looks to toughen up its rules.

The Timaru District has 168 gaming machines across 14 venues, but the new policy proposes that any new or relocated venue will only be allowed seven machines on site. 

A report, authorised by Timaru District Council group manager environmental services Tracy Tierney, tabled at Tuesday's council meeting, said at the moment the policy excludes gambling venues from places "where children, families, community groups and individuals congregate for physical, social, cultural and intellectual development".

"The draft policy includes a relocation policy which allows venues to relocate in instances where they are unable to continue operating at the existing site, for example, the expiration of a lease, due to a fire, or the building being deemed earthquake-prone, dangerous, affected or unsanitary. Venues must meet all other conditions of the policy," Tierney's report says. 

However, it also includes the ability to allow machines in "recreation zones used for organised sporting purposes or recreational non-profit purposes". The new draft policy proposes to remove the "recreation zones" caveat, as it is inconsistent with its overall policy.

In Tierney's report, council staff urge councillors to "consider the social impact of gambling in high-deprivation communities within the district".

Council adopted a Gambling Venue Policy in 2004. Only minor amendments have been made to that policy since 2007 and the policy has not undergone full public consultation since then.

It also allows the public to canvas on a variety of options for reducing gambling harm, including introducing a 'sinking lid' policy, capping the total number of gaming machines in the district.

However, the proposed policy document says a 'sinking lid' policy takes time to have effect on the total number of gambling venues, and is reliant on current venues closing down.

It also "may discourage some hospitality businesses from establishing within the district" and "may over time reduce the funds available for the district from charitable trusts operating gaming machines".

 

The council signed off the draft policy to go out for public consultation on October 9, with submissions closing on November 11.

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