NPDC changes gambling policy in a bid to help cut social harm

15 November 2017

New Plymouth District Council has made changes to its Class 4 Gambling Venues Policy to reduce the potential of gambling harm.

NPDC will introduce a sinking lid policy for gaming machines in Waitara and a cap of 320 for the rest of the district (excluding Waitara).

As a result, if venues in Waitara surrender their gaming machine licences the number of machines permitted within the Waitara area will be reduced. While there is no obligation for venues to surrender machines, the sinking lid sets a potential future reduction in the number of gaming machines in the town from 49 to 25.

Currently, the national density of operating machines is 32.7 gaming machines per 10,000 people. Waitara’s density is 70.7 and in the rest of New Plymouth District it is 39.7; if the target of 25 gaming machines in Waitara is eventually reached, the density would be a 36.1 in Waitara.

Group Manager Strategy Liam Hodgetts says to help NPDC prepare its draft policies for gambling and TAB venues, a report was prepared on the social impact of gaming machines in Taranaki.

“That report showed that Waitara is a high risk community for problem gambling, in part due to the high number of gaming machines in the community,” says Mr Hodgetts.

“By reducing the number of machines, as gaming machine licences are surrendered through the sinking lid policy, we help reduce the risk for Waitara residents.”

As part of the policy, the rules around inactive (or sleeping) machines (when a venue has fewer machines operating than it is licensed for) has been clarified.

Also, changes to both the gambling venues and TAB venues policies ensure that the locational areas of these outlets match those of alcohol venues, so that these venues will not be located near sensitive sites such as schools and churches.

NPDC manages assets worth $2.5 billion, has an operating budget of $130 million and employs 506 full time staff. We reliably provide all the core services you’d expect – water, waste and roads – as well as dynamic Parks, Libraries, an art gallery, commercial forestry, a Zoo, Venues such as Yarrow Stadium/TSB Showplace and events such as the iconic Festival of Lights at Pukekura Park.