No limit on Capital’s CBD pokie numbers
A recent review of the council’s gambling policy suggested pokie-machine numbers needed to be reduced in Tawa, Johnsonville, Miramar, Karori and Newtown.
The council is proposing the fixed cap number of pokies allowed in these areas should be replaced by a population-based ratio of one machine for every 300 people.
The Northern area will go from having 146 pokies to 136, Onslow will reduce from 62 to 53, Lambton area’s 107 will change to 95, Western suburbs has 73 which will change to 67, Southern area will lose 16 , making their amount 100 and Eastern suburbs has 125, soon to be 114.
The Central area zone of Wellington will keep it’s no maximum limit status.
Catherine Reweti, of the Problem Gambling Foundation, says the council should address the central zone of Wellington, and not just the suburbs.
“The Problem Gambling Foundation is pleased the council has looked at amending their policy to include a population cap, but we’re still advocating that they go the full 90 yards with their sinking lid policy,” she says.
Ngaire Best, social portfolio leader for the council, says studies suggest gaming machines cause community harm and increased problem-gambling.
In a draft policy, the council says one of its objectives is to “control the growth of gambling and prevent and minimise the harm caused by gambling, including problem gambling.”
The number of machines in Wellington dropped in 2008 from 834 to 769 but increased slightly again in 2009 from 769 to 797.
Council policy analyst Bryan O’Sullivan says targeting the suburbs will reduce the risk to local residents.
“It’s not so much the numbers in some respects, it’s the actual access,” he says.
“Certainly someone can jump on the bus or get in the car, come into the centre of town and go and find a pokie machine easily enough, but by restricting their access to them, it reduces the risk involved.”
The deadline for submissions is April 9, with the final draft being considered by the council in June.