Christchurch to review pokie policy

It was not long ago that the whole of New Zealand was braced in mourning at the after effects of the terrible earthquake that rocked the country. While many are rebuilding their lives after this terrible event, the business world is also trying to rebuild itself and ensure that the loss of revenues caused by this natural disaster do not cause businesses to go under.

After the earthquake one business area to be hard hit was the hospitality industry as it relies heavily on foreign tourism which waned for a period of time. Part of the hospitality industry greatly affected is the pokie industry.

Since the earthquake a great number of pokie operators have hit the wall with their businesses gone forever, this has seen the number of businesses in the pokie world deteriorate and also the number of pokies available to play.

Interestingly this impact on pokie operators was effectively something Christchurch was trying to achieve anyway. Under their gaming machines policy the Christchurch council wanted to reduce the numbers of pokies available in the city. One of the clauses in the council’s policy is that pokie licences cannot be transferred between venues.

This policy of not being able to transfer licences is one of the biggest hurdles many bars are finding difficult. When the earthquake hit many bars were damaged beyond repair so the businesses moved to new premises but found they cannot move their pokies. The hospitality industry feels that businesses impacted by the earthquake should be allowed to transfer licences to keep some kind of normality to their business by carrying on as normal.

Peter Morrison, The Hospitality Association of New Zealand’s Canterbury branch manager has said “It wouldn’t increase the amount of gaming machines in the city; it would just move them somewhere else.”

The council are now preparing a report to review their pokie policy in line with the reaction by residents and businesses, the council chairwoman Sue Wells said “I believe there is a public appetite to have this conversation, and there’s increased demand to sort this particular matter out either way,”

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