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Auckland Council

Gambling venue policies

Kaupapa Here Wāhi Petipeti

Gambling venue policies are region-wide policies on the management of pokie machines and TAB venues.

Our responsibilities in regard to gambling

Councils have responsibilities under the Gambling Act and Racing Act to play a part in regulating gambling, and must have policies about Class 4 gambling (pokie machines) and TAB venues.

Racing Board (TAB) Venue Policy

This policy requires our approval for new New Zealand Racing Board (TAB) venues.

Our policy caps the number of venues to 43 (equal to the number of venues across Auckland before the policy was adopted). This means the TAB may move its stand-alone venues within Auckland, but may have no more than 43 venues at any one time.

If an existing venue closes, a new TAB may not be established, nor moved to, within 50m of a place of worship, school, early childhood education facility or marae.

We do not have the authority to manage TAB facilities in pubs, clubs and self-service TAB machines.

Get a copy of the Racing Board (TAB) Venue Policy

Class 4 Gambling (Pokie) Venue Policy

Sinking lid policy

Our policy on both venues and gaming machines is a 'sinking lid' policy. This means that when an existing Class 4 (pokie) venue closes, we will not give consent for another to be established.

It also means that a venue cannot increase its number of gaming machines, and that if a venue's license conditions change to reduce the maximum number of machines that it can operate, then it cannot apply to increase this number again at a later date.

Over time, this will lead to a decrease in the number of venues and machines.

The policy also means that existing class 4 venues will not be able to relocate from one part of the city to another.

Merging venues

Class 4 venues will only be able to merge if they are club venues.

The merged venue must have fewer gaming machines than the sum of the two existing venues' gaming machines.

Get a copy of the Class 4 Gambling (pokie) Venue Policy

Gambling venue policies review

In 2016 and 2017, our staff reviewed the effectiveness of the two gambling venue policies.

On 15 June 2017, the Regulatory Committee agreed to keep the existing policies with no changes, as recommended by staff.

Our role in the management of pokie machines and TAB venues

The Auckland Plan identifies the concentration of pokie venues - in particular in areas of high deprivation - as an issue of concern for our communities.

However, our legislative authority is limited to creating New Zealand Racing Board (TAB) and Class 4 gambling venue policies.

Limitations of our authority

We do not have authority to:

  • control hours of operation of TAB or pokie venues
  • close down an existing gambling venue
  • be involved in decisions about what happens to proceeds of gambling - where and to whom proceeds are distributed
  • regulate casinos, internet gambling or Lotto outlets.

Advocacy to government

We have made four submissions to government:

  • to the Commerce Committee of Parliament in 2012
  • to the Department of Internal Affairs in 2013 and 2016
  • to the Government Administration Committee of Parliament in 2015.

Submission to the Commerce Committee of Parliament

In 2012 we submitted to the Commerce Committee of Parliament on the Gambling (Gambling Harm Reduction) Amendment Bill.

We proposed that local authorities should have greater powers for regulating pokie venues in their districts to reduce harm from gambling.

Formal feedback to the Department of Internal Affairs

In 2013 we gave formal feedback to the Department of Internal Affairs on its public consultation on four Class 4 gambling proposals.

We raised issues with the distribution of pokie grants money. We also showed that grant money is not always being returned to the communities within which it is generated.

In 2016 we gave formal feedback to the Department of Internal Affairs on its public consultation on the Discussion Document: Review of Class 4 gambling.

We again raised issues with the distribution of pokie grants money, and expressed support for requiring the return of a percentage of funds to the community of origin. We also recommended stricter enforcement be undertaken to improve the gambling sector’s compliance with governing legislation and minimise the impact of problem gambling.

Submission to the Government Administration Committee of Parliament

In 2015 we submitted to the Government Administration Committee of Parliament on the Gambling Amendment Bill (No 3).

We stated our view: any new payment system must not incentivise operators to maximise the returns from their gaming machines.

Get a copy of the submissions

Research on gambling

We commissioned research that looked at the social and economic impact of gambling.