Review of Council’s Gambling Venues Policy
A review of Wairoa’s Gambling Venues Policy will be undertaken by the Wairoa District Council later in the year.
In 2019 there were four pokie machine venues in the Wairoa district with a total of 58 machines. This has remained unchanged since 2015.
Wairoa’s net pokie spend, after winnings, over 2020 was $2,376,312.
According to the Department of Internal Affairs data source Wairoa had the third highest spend in the country behind Kawerau and Rotorua.
Wairoa was also had the third highest pokie spend in 2019 and the fourth highest in 2018.
Figures represent a spend per adult in Wairoa of $395, ahead of the New Zealand average spend of $226.
The Wairoa pokie spend decreased by 14.9% in 2020, due to the COVID-19 lockdown period, compared to a nationwide decrease of 13.6%.
Wairoa Mayor Craig Little acknowledges this is a high spend and it is important the needs of the community are looked after.
“Problem gambling can be an issue for some people. There is a correlation between gambling and socio-economic deprivation with the gambling statistics symptomatic of the root issues that the Council and other community groups have been working to address.”
Mr Little said under the current policy, Council will not grant consent for pokies at new venues or increase the number of machines at existing venues.
“The review of the Gambling Venues Policy will include consultation with our community, and we will take on board feedback and look at gambling and its affects from a holistic lens.
“As Mayor, I am concerned about the high amount of dollars spent on pokies, but we must balance that with the fact that not all gamblers are addicted, people have the right to have a flutter on the pokies if they want to.
“It is also interesting that pokies gambling can be measured through machines at geographical locations, however, there are other forms of gambling, including online, where the spend cannot be measured as easily.
“Of our four venues, three are in town and one at Mahia. We all know the Mahia population swells massively with tourists from October onwards and we don’t have a breakdown for the Mahia figures alone.”
Council staff are currently in discussions with the Problem Gambling Foundation and other health agencies to ensure every possible consideration is being made for the policy review.
Anyone who needs help with a gambling problem or knows of someone who needs help is encouraged to phone 0800 664 262.
21 April 2021
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