An independent survey of 300 people - expected to cost $17,530 - has been proposed as part of a review of Rotorua Lakes Council's pokie machines policy.
The council must review its policy every three years and will on Thursday consider a recommendation that the process include a survey to obtain a view on pokie machine gambling from the Rotorua community. The survey would be undertaken prior to a council workshop which would be followed by a formal proposal for a policy.
The current policy sets a cap of 380 gambling machines in the district, limits the number of machines allowed per venue, allows for the relocation of machines to other venues when a venue closes and sets criteria and conditions about where machines are allowed in the district.
"It is reasonable to believe that the ongoing social costs to Rotorua from gambling machines outweigh the benefits," a report in Thursday's agenda says.
Rotorua has a relatively high number of machines per person and a higher spend per person than the national average. The number of machines in Rotorua has been relatively stable in recent years, remaining higher than the cap of 380 with the relocation allowance enabling 36 machines to relocate within the inner city in the last 12 months.
The report says preliminary discussions with people in Rotorua who deal with gambling related harm indicates support for a sinking lid policy (ie no new licences granted) to reduce venue and machine numbers over time and preventing relocations to venues close to schools.
The view of local societies and venue operators was that the status quo should remain and relocations should be allowed to ensure the sustainability of businesses.
"While there is a significant amount of information available on which to base the policy review, staff believe that council will be better informed if the views of the general public are also available," the report says.
The options for policy change include:
Status quo with refinement of relocation rules;
Reduced cap to closer to national average with refinement of relocation rules;
Sinking lid with relocations in certain circumstances;
Sinking lid without any relocations.