An application by the Lion Foundation to introduce gaming machines to the Loading Ramp bar in Havelock North was met with resistance in the community, with concerns ranging from the venue's proximity to an early childcare centre to the view there were already too many pokies in the village.

The application to install nine gaming machines at the bar was one of two a Hastings District Council hearings committee will consider next week.

The other was from the Hastings Returned Services Association, which sought to increase its number of gaming machines by four at the Elbowroom, which would bring its total to 18.

The council's gambling venue policy restricts the maximum number of machines in the district to 293, and in September when the applications were made, there was capacity for nine more machines to operate in the district.

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The capped limit replaced the council's "sinking lid" policy earlier this year.

Council staff recommended that the Elbowroom be granted permission to install four machines and the Loading Ramp five, to keep within the cap limits.

Both applications were required to be publicly notified and four submissions in support, four against and one neutral were received in response to the Elbowroom application.

The request to introduce pokies to the Loading Ramp, however, attracted 13 submissions, all in opposition.

A common theme was concern that Havelock North already had too many gaming machines, and that the venue was located within 100m of Turks Bar, a gaming venue with 18 machines, and Havelock North Play Centre.

One submitter expressed concern about the activities surrounding the Loading Ramp, and their impact on nearby accommodation providers.

"The Loading Ramp often remains open until the early hours of the morning, resulting in excessive and drunk patrons spilling out on to the surrounding streets thereby causing damage to the reputation of Havelock North and distress to visitors staying at nearby accommodation venues."

Another said that "just because there is room in the Hastings district for another nine machines does not mean they must or need to be filled".

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The Problem Gambling Foundation said the cost of the machines exceeded the benefits.
It said that Hastings received about $3.6 million in pokie grants between January 1, 2016 and August 31, 2017.

In that time, people spent $30 million on pokie machines in the Hastings district.

"This also indicates that money lost in Hastings is not necessarily granted back to Hastings and the revenue generated by gambling within a community is often spent in a more affluent community," its submission said.

About 2.5 per cent of New Zealand adults experienced some kind of gambling related harm, it said, including elderly people.

With 24.9 per cent of Havelock North's population aged over 65, this was another concerning factor.

In support of its application, however, the Lion Foundation said it believed nine more machines in Havelock North would contribute about $150,000 in community funding for the Hastings district.

"In the last 12 months to June 2017, the Lion Foundation have funded approximately $744,000 to community initiatives and worthwhile causes within the Hastings District," it said.

It said the location of the venue was within the Havelock North Village Centre, an area deemed appropriate for gambling activities in the Hastings District Council's policy.
The hearings will be held on Monday next week.