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Wairarapa councils to consider changes to gambling policies

With gambling harm reportedly on the rise, two Wairarapa district councils will consider a report recommending changes to their gambling policies.

If the recommendations of the report tabled today with the Carterton and the Masterton District Councils are accepted, the community will then be asked for their views as part of a wider consultation process.

South Wairarapa District Council will consider the report later this month.

The report on Wairarapa Class 4 and standalone TAB venues recommends restrictions on what is currently permitted.

“Feedback from social service agencies suggests that gambling harm is becoming more of an issue in Wairarapa in the face of increasing financial pressures on households. Those in our most deprived communities are most at risk from gambling harm,” it said.

The report also recommended current policy be amended based on the findings of a social impact assessment, an assessment of gambling harms and benefits, and an assessment of the effectiveness of the current policy in achieving its purpose.

Recommendations include not allowing Class 4 gambling venues to relocate to Wairarapa’s most deprived areas if the proposed location is outside of a main town centre, a restriction on any new standalone TAB venues in the region, and restrictions on new pokie machines.

The report said that, despite a reduction in gambling venues and pokies, gambling spending has slowly increased in Wairarapa since 2015.

“While official statistics show a reduction in help-seeking regarding gambling harm, Wairarapa-based social service agencies surveyed … consider that gambling harm is becoming more of an issue.

“Based on limited feedback from venues and gaming trusts, the presence of Class 4 gambling venues in Wairarapa brings limited economic benefit to the Wairarapa region, with
minimal impact on employment.”

The report said the proportion of gaming machine profits returned to Wairarapa in the form of grant funding is low [19 per cent] compared with other regions.

Only a small number of service providers working to address gambling harm had received gaming trust grants in the past year.

If the councils accept the recommendations, consultation with the community would happen in October and November. During the consultation period, the social impact assessment, and other background information would be made available on council websites. – NZLDR

    Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air

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