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Council advised to relax gaming machines policy

28 April 2006

The City Council is set to review its Gaming Machines Policy this year, around six months before it is required to by law.

At a council seminar on Wednesday, the Council was told that new Department of Internal Affairs regulations introduced since its 2004 policy was adopted meant that much of its current policy is now no longer necessary.

These measures have helped make gaming machines increasingly expensive and less viable to run for smaller operators.

Nationwide spending on gaming machines is still high, compared with other gambling options, but there has been a slight decline in growth since 2004.  Since the Council policy was introduced, the Department of Internal Affairs has also brought in regulations around harm minimisation and prevention, and the types of premises allowed gaming machines.

Councillors will consider several options for their policy at a Council meeting on 25 May. The options include:
a. status quo – retain the current council policy framework without taking into account the new regulations
b. To have the Council policy set an upper limit on the number of machines and venues with machines as well as restrictions by the DIA, or
c. to permit only premises which have a Sale of Liquor Licence with designated areas for machines to be venues for gambling machines – the DIA regulations alone do not restrict premises on the basis of a liquor licence. 

The option to be recommended to the Council by officers is C.

“The Council was required by law to develop its policy in 2004 and we did so on the basis of the rules that existed at the time. They have now changed. It makes sense to ensure that the Council’s policy is current and appropriate,” says Cr Sue Wells.

Once the Council decides which is its preferred option, public feedback will be sought through before the final decision is made in the latter half of this year.

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