Sinking Lid Policies in New Zealand
What is the Sinking Lid Policy?
A sinking lid policy means no new licenses for pokie machines can be issued, and pokie machines cannot be transferred to a new pub or owner if the venue closes. It is a way to gradually reduce the destructive harm caused by pokies, the most harmful form of gambling. Here is all about the Sinking Lid Policies in New Zealand.
It has been an interesting time of late in the political landscape of local councils as pokies have been high on the agendas of many New Zealand councils.
Now the reason many have been looking at pokies is to decide whether to adopt a sinking lid policy on pokies or not. For those that do not know, the sinking lid policy one is one where the council allows no more pokies in the area and allows natural attrition to see the rest of the pokies slowly disappear over time.
One council to actually decide on taking up a sinking lid policy is Southland District, this decision will mark the end to new pokies in the district and over time could eventually lead to pokies disappearing altogether. For many in Southland, this will be a disturbing announcement, but this being said the pokies still on offer will be available for playing and are unlikely to disappear in the short term.
No Sinking Lid Policy for North Taranaki
On a brighter note, North Taranaki has taken a different route to Southland District with its pokie policy. The New Plymouth District council decided that it would not impose a sinking lid policy on the pokie businesses of North Taranaki, however, the council did decide that it would steam ahead with its current policy to keep a strict account of the number of pokies in the area. This could see the number of pokies reduce as the limit decreases from 389 to 369. But it doesn’t mean that no more pokie permits are there in the cards.
By deciding on this approach the New Plymouth District Council has declined over 200 requests for pokies.
Gambling Machine ‘sinking lid’ Policy for Queenstown Lakes District
The Queenstown Lakes District Council is proposing to ban Class 4 gambling venues from functioning in residential zones. Queenstown Lakes District Council is currently reviewing its policy to regulate the growth and location of non-casino electronic gaming machines; and Totalisator Agency Board (TAB) gambling within the district.
An amendment to the current policy to prevent new gambling venues start in residential zones. It get the nod by the council’s community and services committee at a meeting lately. The committee also review a sinking lid option.
The addition of the new condition; banning new gambling venues from residential zones; will allow for “an element of protection to expanding residential areas. It should not raise any concerns from any existing premises in the district; including the one venue that is currently in a residential area. It is not appropriate for gaming to spread throughout the region’s residential areas. Stevens said he was “intrigued” by the sinking lid policy, however, he did not think it was possible “at this stage”.
The council had requested more information about the sinking lid policy from the Department of Internal Affairs. However, the department’s response was too “vague”.
As the policy received frequent reviews and that will give the opportunity to see the effect of the residential addition. It also potentially look at this again as Stevens is tempted by option three. This was to add a sinking lid condition but without relevant information, he doesn’t think that is possible at this stage.
67 Territories are Embracing a Sinking Lid Policy in New Zealand
The department estimates between one-quarter and one-third of the 67 territorial authorities nationwide were operating a sinking lid policy. The sinking lid policy does not allow any new class 4 venues or gaming machines in the territorial authority’s district. There are also territorial authorities that have caps on the number of venues and or gaming machines.
The council’s current policy has effectively worked for the past 12 years. It decreases four premises that contain gambling machines. There has been a decrease of 50 overall machines around the district.
It’s an interesting time for pokies as local governments take different approaches to pokie gameplay. We should just hope that all the pokies don’t disappear.
Christchurch Retains Sinking Lid policy
This city currently has 82 pub and club gambling venues and 1,291 pokie machines operating; (which is fewer than the 2,158 machines operating back in 2004, and half the number of venues since that year).
According to a council staff report; despite the decrease in machines and venus; Christchurch still has more machines per capita than the national average. Data from the report shows Christchurch has 3.3 machines per 1,000 residents; Auckland has 1.9, and Wellington and Dunedin sit on the national average of 2.9 machines per 1,000 residents.
The same report said Christchurch was over-present in the statistics of people receiving treatment for gambling addiction and other gambling-related issues; it also showed that Christchurch accounted for 8% of New Zealand’s population (with 10% of the total number of gamblers who accessed help in 2020 being from the city).
Jarrod True, of the Gaming Machine Association of New Zealand, argued that by limiting pokie machines the council was only limiting recreational players, as the number of online gambling users is going up. Therefore, restricting access to physical gambling does not stop people who are addicted because: “People will always find a machine to play if they are addicted to gaming.”