New gaming machines and venues will be banned in Porirua, in an attempt to reduce the city’s high spending on gambling.
Yesterday, Porirua City Council voted for a sinking lid policy on gambling machines and venues.
Research shows gambling harm is prevalent in Porirua, which has one of the highest spends per machine in the country.
At present, 10 venues have 156 pokie machines, which earned $15.8 million profit in the last financial year. This was a $2m increase from the previous financial year.
The sinking lid policy will stop any new class 4 gaming venues from opening and any new machines from being installed.
New gaming machines and venues will be banned in Porirua. Photo / Duncan Brown
People using pokie machines came from the most vulnerable communities, with Maori and Pacific people particularly at risk, the council said.
The council considered making an ethical commitment not to take grants from the machines for community events, but more money would have had to come from rates to make up the funding shortfall.
Porirua Mayor Anita Baker said she had previously supported more gaming machines, but had changed her views after a recovered gambling addict pleaded for no more machines to be installed, then returned to gambling when her plea was not acted on.
“These things are not good for our society, a reformed gambler goes back to gambling because we put a machine in her village,” Baker said.
However, a pragmatic approach was needed, she said.
Porirua Mayor Anita Baker says a pragmatic approach is needed.
“We can’t afford to pay for the things local government needs to do with the roading and infrastructure.
“So I know it seems a bit hypocritical, but if we got rid of that, then we would lose our Te Pahi bus, which runs for ... low-decile schools, takes those kids out to swimming.
“We would have lost our Love Local, which is a huge business event for our community, and it funds Matariki, Waitangi Day,” Baker said.
Deputy Mayor Kylie Wihapi said while taking pokie machine money was “not a great feeling”, the funding would simply end up somewhere else if the council did not use it.
“I would prefer to have that funding for our people here in Porirua,” Wihapi said.
The community made 89 submissions on the gambling policy, with 83 per cent in favour of the sinking lid approach.
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