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Decrease in pokies but increase in spending

A workshop on problem gambling will be held next year, Gisborne District Council’s environmental planning and regulations committee was told at its meeting

The council is due to review its policy for Class 4 gambling machines (pokies) and racing board (TAB) venues.

The committee had just received a report saying that gross machine profits from pokie machines from the district were expected to reach $11 million in 2018.

Gisborne’s loss per head figure of $88.03 placed the region 19th of 67 districts in New Zealand.

Because of the district’s high level of deprivation, problem gambling was likely to be disproportionately affecting certain parts of the community.

Strategic planning manager Joanna Noble said the workshop would discuss some of the issues a review of the council’s gambling venue policy had raised and the feedback from stakeholders.

There was a diversity in submissions as to whether the policy should become far more restrictive or whether it could be relaxed.

Statistics showed the number of machines in the district had decreased but the amount of money spent on them had increased.

Staff were asking that this initial review be adopted and that next year they come back and discuss in detail some of the issues raised.

Committee chairwoman Pat Seymour said at the last review that relocation of premises was allowed to enable them to be renovated.

She wanted to flag the fact that one or two councillors were of the view that the relocation policy should be seriously reconsidered.