The first step toward slowly eliminating pokies in Tauranga has been proposed by Tauranga City Council.

No new gambling venues can set up, no new pokies could be brought in and any that close could not be replaced under the draft Gambling Venues Policy, which Tauranga City Council put out for public consultation today.

The council has proposed the introduction of a "sinking lid" policy to limit the harm caused by problem gambling, especially in low socio-economic areas.

The council's current policy restricted the number of gaming machines that can operate in Tauranga to one machine per 220 residents.

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This means that as the population increases, so too could the number of places to gamble.

A dwindling number of gaming machines, which by law must give a portion of their earnings to community causes, would affect the availability of funding for the racing industry, sports and community organisations, and clubs.

The policy would also mean growth areas such as Te Tumu in Pāpāmoa East would not be able to have gambling venues unless an existing venue relocated there.


Main proposed changes:

- Do not give approval for any new gaming machine gambling venues (Class 4 venues e.g. pubs or clubs), or stand-alone TAB venues (for sports and racing betting), to be established in the city. No new venues will be able to set up in Tauranga ("sinking lid").

- Do not give approval for any additional gaming machines to operate in the city. Venues with licensed machines can keep theirs, but not add any ("sinking lid").

- Existing venues relocating within the city will only be able to establish within commercial and industrial areas (as per the current policy), but also more than 100m from residential zones with high social deprivation as defined by the NZDep2013 index of deprivation.

- Amend the objectives to reflect the policy's intent to minimise harm from gambling in general, instead of only gambling on gaming machines.