The number of gambling venues and machines in Manukau city looks set to fall following a decision by the Manukau City Council’s Policy and Activities Committee today (29.11.07)
The committee will recommend to full council on 13 December that a review of the Manukau City Gambling Venue Policy be adopted.
The revised policy proposes to introduce a continuous sinking lid policy on any new gambling venues in the city. If approved, no licences for new gambling venues will be issued by the council, even if the number of venues reduces. This means that if an existing venue closes, it will not be replaced with a new licence somewhere else. Over time, this is expected to reduce the number of gambling premises in the city, though it is unlikely to ever eliminate them completely, as many of the existing licensed venues are well-established premises.
Councillor Dick Quax, Safe City Portfolio Leader, is pleased with the recommendation which was approved after a long discussion.
“A section of our communities is at risk from gambling activities in the city, and the revised gambling venue policy is a step in the right direction for creating a safe environment for future generations.”
The number of venues operating in the city has in fact already reduced: from 90 in 2003, to 71 as at September 2007. The number of machines has also reduced from 1172 to 996 *
(* Department of Internal Affairs).
Earlier this year, the council received 7537 submissions in response to the revised draft policy when it was made available for public comment. More than 7400 submissions were proforma responses generated by campaigns run in Otara and other parts of the city. Most of these submissions requested that a sinking lid policy be adopted.
Fifty-eight written submissions supported a moratorium and/or sinking lid on venues and machine numbers. This group mainly represented organisations and individuals who deal with the harm caused by problem gambling. Thirty written submissions supporting the status quo (i.e. 90 venues) were from the clubs and organisations that rely on grants from the gaming sector and from representatives of the gaming sector itself.
The Policy and Activities Committee heard oral submissions from 32 of the above submitters earlier this month.