In the past 15 years, there has been a decline in the number of gaming machines in the Timaru District. The Problem Gambling Foundation, however, says, “but more could be done to ensure the decline of the machine.”
The Timaru District Council is currently mulling over the idea of a Gambling Venue Policy, which, if introduced, would limit the number of machines at a venue to a maximum of seven. The policy allows existing gambling venues who have less than seven gaming machines to increase the number to seven. The Council is inviting the opinion of all the Community members regarding this controversial policy.
Public submissions received regarding the policy, display a mixed reaction. Gaming Machine Industry Association chairman Bruce Robertson in his submission said that,
“The evidence does not support the introduction of a more restrictive policy. There is no direct correlation between gaming machine numbers and problem gambling rates. Over the last ten years, the problem gambling rate has remained the same, despite gaming machine numbers declining rapidly.”
Robertson said attrition of community funding infrastructure was the reason behind rejection of grant applications,
“In contrast to gaming venues, offshore-based online gambling does not generate any community funding for New Zealanders, no tax revenue is generated for the New Zealand Government, and no contributions are made to problem gambling treatment providers via the problem gambling levy.”
However, spokesperson of Problem Gambling Foundation, Andree Froude, said the policy does not have far-reaching results, and a “sinking lid” approach needs to be adapted.
“The council’s policy says introducing a sinking lid might discourage clubs and bars from being established. Well, if they have to install gaming machines to be truly viable, should we really have them in our community at all.”
According to her, the “sinking lid” approach does not result in the disappearance of gaming machines overnight. She also acknowledged that these venues brought funds into the community, but she also underlined the social cost that the community had to bear.