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City Council wraps up gambling policy hearings

3 October 2006

A Christchurch City Council hearings panel has today completed its consideration of more than 2000 public submissions about a proposal to bring the city’s rules about the citing and number of non-casino gaming machines (pokies) into line with national rules.

The panel members spent three and a half days listening to submitters. Almost all of those who spoke or wrote in – 98 per cent – do not want the council to relax its current policy, best described as a “slowly sinking lid”.

Chairwoman Carole Evans said the panel’s recommendation to the council, expected at the end of the month, will be that the city stay with an additional layer of local rules which mean new venues cannot install pokies and those that have them now, in almost all cases, will not be able to move them to a new location.

“I went around the table and asked the seven councillors on the panel for their opinion,” Cr Evans said. “The view is unanimous that we shouldn’t be doing anything that could lead to more machines operating in the city.

“We have asked the staff to prepare a report for the council which will look at a few small amendments to the current policy but I’d say it’s certain that Christchurch won’t be lifting the sinking lid policy.”

The council had asked for public feedback on a proposal to scrap the local rules and instead rely on those made by Parliament. In developing the idea for consultation, councillors had also been considering the increasing reliance of community and sports groups on funds from pokies.

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