A gambling bill which gives councils and the public power to cut the number of poker machines in their area and ensures that gambling proceeds are fed back into the immediate community is expected to pass its first hurdle with near-unanimous support.
The Gambling (Gambling Harm Reduction) Amendment Bill will resume its first reading tomorrow and its sponsor, Maori Party MP Te Ururoa Flavell, says it is well timed given that gambling is in the spotlight.
It was first tabled in 2010 but has resurfaced as the Government negotiates a deal involving more pokies at SkyCity Casino.
Mr Flavell said it was important that the connection between problem gambling and social problems was laid out in the negotiations between the Government and SkyCity.
The Government has agreed to support his bill through to select committee as part of the Relationship Accord with the Maori Party. It will also be backed by Act, United Future, Labour, and the Greens, with NZ First expected to decide its position this morning.
Mr Flavell said the proposed changes would arm communities with ways to overcome the "inequities of harm" caused by the excessive number of pokies in poorer suburbs.
At present, the reduction in pokie numbers was enforced in some areas by a "sinking lid policy", which meant no new machines could be installed, and if a venue closed its pokies could not be moved.
The bill would give councils power to prevent a gambling venue from getting a new licence if the community decided it was causing too much harm.
It also proposed dramatic changes to the way gambling proceeds were distributed.
The amendments would ensure that 80 per cent of the money lost went back to the community where the gambling took place.
* Gives councils power to eliminate or reduce pokies at a venue if the public feels they are harmful.
* Ensures 80 per cent of gambling proceeds return to the community where the money was lost.
* Phases out the corporate societies which distribute pokie earnings, and replaces them with transparent, local committees.
* Insists that venues introduce gambler tracking systems which measure losses, and pre-commit cards which allow players to preset the time and money they gamble.
* Removes special status of the racing industry as a recipient for the purpose of racing stakes.
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