New gambling input in WDC hands

By Mike Barrington

The Whangarei District Council will today decide whether reviewed rules covering poker machines and TAB gambling in the district will be advertised for public submissions next Tuesday.

The horse racing component of the review is relatively straightforward as it covers only standalone TABs operated by the New Zealand Racing Board. There is only one of these in the district, in Vine St, Whangarei. Council policy allowing two such operations in the district is unchanged in the review and it is understood the board has no intention of expanding its Whangarei operations at present.

The council seeks to balance the harm review covering pokie machines, but is complicated with the council seeking to balance the harm caused by problem gambling against the grants totalling at least $5 million annually to Whangarei groups. Or average annual proceeds of $15.3 million from the 243 machines in the district. The public is expected to be asked to consider - continuing the present cap on pokie machine numbers; a sinking lid policy - which would stop a new consent being issued to replace any gambling venue which lost its licence; and lifting the cap, allowing new venue applications.

- Northern Advocate

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