Balance sought for gambling policy

By Emily Norman emily.norman@age.co.nz -
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Jarrod True, solicitor for the New Zealand Racing Board, said the organisation ensuring council decisions on gambling policies were "balanced and made on good grounds". PHOTO/FILE
Jarrod True, solicitor for the New Zealand Racing Board, said the organisation ensuring council decisions on gambling policies were "balanced and made on good grounds". PHOTO/FILE

The NZ Racing Board aims to "bring balance" to gambling policy talks at tomorrow's Tararua District Council meeting, fighting the case against the sinking lid policy for gaming machines, and suggesting the council adopts a formal relocation provision for gambling venues.

Jarrod True, solicitor for the New Zealand Racing Board, said the organisation was "certainly not going around saying, have more gaming machines" but rather was ensuring council decisions on gambling policies were "balanced and made on good grounds".

"All of these hearings you get the anti-gambling people coming along making their point and the NZ Racing Board would just like the council to be aware of the hard, cold facts," Mr True said.

"That's the role we play, putting the other side on the table so that councils can make an informed decision after hearing both sides of the story."

Mr True said the New Zealand Racing Board opposed the gaming machine sinking lid policy and suggested the cap be set at existing numbers, which for the Tararua District was 118 machines across 11 venues.

He said there was no direct correlation between gaming machine numbers and problem gambling rates, and that people were turning to offshore and online forums instead.

"Between 2006 and 2010 the problem rate increased, despite the number of gaming machines in New Zealand falling considerably in the same period," he said.

"Between 2010 and 2012 the problem gambling rate stayed the same, despite a continual decline in gambling machine numbers.

"The reasons for an increase or decrease in problem gambling is complex and multifaceted, not simply the direct byproduct of an increase or decrease in machine numbers."

Mr True said a formal relocation provision, part of the NZ Racing Board's submission to TDC, would allow venues to move away from high-deprivation areas to more desirable areas such as CBDs and commercial zones "without losing their ability to host the same number of machines".

"Allowing relocation enables gaming venues to move to new, modern and refurbished premises," he said.

"Allowing businesses to upgrade their premises and provide a more modern, attractive offering to the public helps to revitalise the business districts."

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