Wairarapa policy cuts number of pokies

By Hayley Gastmeier hayley.gastmeier@age.co.nz -
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The number of venues with gambling machines in Wairarapa has dropped since 2011 from 19 to 14 and the number of machines fell from 240 to 188. PHOTO/FILE
The number of venues with gambling machines in Wairarapa has dropped since 2011 from 19 to 14 and the number of machines fell from 240 to 188. PHOTO/FILE

South Wairarapa's deputy mayor Viv Napier says pokie gambling in Wairarapa is slowly dropping to become more in line with the national average.

Discussing the joint gambling policy of three district councils at a meeting last week, South Wairarapa District councillors agreed the sinking lid policy was working.

Since the policy was introduced in 2011 Wairarapa has seen a decrease in gaming machines numbers across the district.

The number of venues housing gambling machines throughout Wairarapa has dropped from 19 to 14, with the number of machines dropping from 240 to 188.

By December 2015 the number of machines in Masterton had dropped by 38. South Wairarapa saw a decrease of 11 machines and Carterton dropped three.

On Wednesday SWDC adopted the reviewed 2012 Wairarapa Gambling Venues policy, which underwent "some small minor changes", according to Mrs Napier, who was part of the combined councils' governance group responsible for reviewing the gambling policy.

Mrs Napier said that when the first policy came in, Wairarapa had one of the highest usage rates of pokie machines in the country.

"We were so far out there it was amazing. When we started this we had one of the highest rates per person, if not the highest rate in the country, so we had a long way to go with bridging the gap between what was normal and we are slowly getting towards that normal status."

South Wairarapa mayor Adrienne Staples asked Mrs Napier if there had been any talk between the Wairarapa Combined Policy Review Working Group of the possibility of one day "Wairarapa being ambling machine free".

Mrs Napier said the area was only now coming in line with the rest of the country.

"So we still have a long way to go before you would ever imagine there to be no gambling machines in Wairarapa.

"And I would say the people who have them now will probably hang on to them as much as they can."

Mrs Staples said perhaps in the future there would be the need to have a status quo policy as opposed to a sinking lid policy. "But that's something that could be answered in 10 years time."

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