Simon Collins

Simon Collins is the Herald’s social issues reporter.

Sports groups fear impact of 'sinking lid' on pokies

Photo / File
Photo / File

Pokie numbers in pubs and clubs across Auckland will drop under a new unified Super City policy, at least partly offsetting more pokies in the Sky City casino under the controversial convention centre deal.

After a long process that began soon after the Super City was formed in 2010, the Auckland Council has adopted a uniform "sinking lid" in the region, banning new pokie venues and refusing to allow pokies to be relocated when existing outlets close.

It has allowed only one exception - for clubs that merge. They will be allowed to keep five-sixths of the pokies they had at their previous venues, provided the merged site already has a pokie licence.

Problem Gambling Foundation public health manager Tony Milne hailed the decision as "a victory for the people of Auckland".

But sports bodies that depend on pokie money were appalled.

"Auckland Football is certainly sensitive to the social issues which have underpinned the changes," said chief executive David Parker. "However, there will be a flow-on effect of this decision which impacts the ability of community organisations to deliver a range of positive and beneficial outcomes to Aucklanders."

Auckland Cricket chief executive Mark Cameron said pokie trusts were the second-biggest source of revenue for most clubs, after membership fees.

Community Gaming Association director Brian Corbett accused the council of penalising community groups to offset the Government's deal to allow an extra 230 pokies at Sky City in return for the casino company building a $400 million convention centre.

The Government plans to lift the share of pokie proceeds clubs and pubs have to give to the community from 37.1 per cent to a figure that Mr Corbett said could reach 42 per cent in the next few years; 2.5 per cent of Sky City profits go to the community.

- NZ Herald

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