The number of places where people can play pokie machines in Whangārei has dropped from 33 to 20 since the "sinking lid" was added to the district's gambling policy in 2003.

Whangārei District Council is now seeking public feedback on its Class Four Gambling Venue policy, which it is currently reviewing.

Class four gambling means venues with non-casino electronic gambling machines.

The statement of proposal shows a plan to continue with the sinking lid rule - that no new pokie machine venues can be established in Whangārei.


One of the main reasons for the review was also to update the policy to align with recent changes to the Gambling Act.

Despite the change being administrative, the council is required to consult with the community so it has opted to rewrite the policy in simpler language so it is easier to understand.

Copies of the statement of proposal and submissions are available on the council's website and can be viewed at the council's premises.

In adopting the statement of proposal for public consultation, councillors expressed their desire to hear from the community.

Councillor Crichton Christie said he has always been for the sinking lid policy but thought it had come to stage where it had done its time.

Instead he wanted to see a capped policy. He said the district had lost "quite a few machines" since the sinking lid policy came into place.

He said the profits of pokie machines come back into the community through trusts and grants, but if the number of machines continued to drop, people would look elsewhere - such as online - to gamble, but none of the online profits would come back to the community.

Christie added there are fewer controls for online gambling than at pubs and clubs.


"It should at least stay the same or even slight growth."

He pointed to an increase in population as another reason to move to a capped policy.

Cr Vince Cocurullo was also in support of a capped policy.

Submission are open now and close at 5pm on May 31. A hearing is scheduled for June 11 for the council to hear submissions, before deliberating on June 26.