Last minute changes to rules covering pokie machines in the district will see a lower cap put on their numbers in the hope they will disappear from the suburbs.
Councillors voted 5-4 in favour of reducing the Rotorua's Lakes Council's cap on the total number of pokie machines allowed in the district from 382 to 350 at a council meeting on Thursday.
But the cap won't come into affect until suburban venues close down completely.
Under the council's revised Class IV Gambling and Board Venue Policy, and in an attempt to get rid of pokie machines in suburban Rotorua, pokie machines operators in suburban areas are allowed to move to the CBD, but not the other way round.
The amendment to the rules was proposed by councillor Rob Kent who said the council should be seen to be making efforts to reduce the social harm caused by gambling.
Mr Kent, Tania Tapsell, Charles Sturt, Mark Gould and Peter Bentley voted for the amendment, while mayor Steve Chadwick, Dave Donaldson, Karen Hunt and Raj Kumar voted against.
Councillor Merepeka Raukawa-Tait was absent.
Councillor Trevor Maxwell abstained from discussion and voting due to his position as chairman of the New Zealand Community Trust for the Bay of Plenty, Waikato, Thames Valley and King Country.
The trust manages 93 pokie machines in Rotorua.
"There is no necessity to retain the cap at a level that is much higher than the national standard," Mr Kent said.
"We must send a very clear message to the people of Rotorua that we want the number of pokie machines to come down and we want the impact on the poorer people in our community to be less."
The council's strategy and partnerships group manager Jean-Paul Gaston said the only way the number of machines would come down was if a venue closes.
"And there is a risk there may not be any speed in the movement down to the 350 cap," he said.
Ms Hunt said she understood Mr Kent's intention, but lowering the cap would not be an effective way to bring the number of pokie machines down.
"I pragmatically believe it's not going to achieve anything.
"We have tried to record where the issues lie . . . and they lie with suburban ones . . . and we have given them the option to move into the CBD . . . but it does fly in the face of the other policy we put in place where they can move into the CBD if they relocate.
"I can't vote for this just because it sounds good and looks good - to get these machines out of our community, this is not the policy to do that," she said.
Gambling policy changes
Maximum number of pokie machines in the district set at 350
Businesses not allowed to move machines to new suburban venues
Suburban businesses can move into the CBD
Limit TAB venues to existing sites
New policy adopted on Thursday