Sinking Lid Policies in New Zealand

Sinking Lid Policies in New Zealand
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.

Lately, the political landscape of local councils has been interesting, 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. For those who do not know, the sinking lid policy is one where the council allows no more pokies in the area and natural attrition to see the rest 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 of 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

No Sinking Lid Policy for North Taranaki - Sinking Lid Policies in New Zealand
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 mean the number of pokies will decrease as the limit decreases from 389 to 369. But it doesn’t mean no more pokie permits are 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

Gambling Machine 'sinking lid' Policy for Queenstown Lakes District - Sinking Lid Policies in New Zealand
Gambling Machine ‘Sinking Lid’ Policy for Queenstown Lakes District

The Queenstown Lakes District Council proposes banning Class 4 gambling venues from functioning in residential zones. Queenstown Lakes District Council is 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 from starting in residential zones was recently approved by the council’s community and services committee at a meeting. The committee also reviewed a sinking lid option.

Adding 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 existing premises in the district, including the one venue currently in a residential area. It is inappropriate 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”.

The policy received frequent reviews, which will allow the opportunity to see the effect of the residential addition. It also potentially looks at this again, as Stevens is tempted by option three. This was to add a sinking lid condition, but he doesn’t think that is possible without relevant information.

67 Territories are Embracing a Sinking Lid Policy in New Zealand

67 Terrotories are Embracing a Sinking Lid Policy in New Zealand - Sinking Lid Policies in New Zealand
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 new class 4 venues or gaming machines in the territorial authority’s district. Territorial authorities also have caps on the number of venues and 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. The long-term impact of sinking lid policies on pokie availability remains to be seen.pen_spark

Christchurch Retains Sinking Lid Policy

Christchurch Retains Sinking Lid policy
Christchurch Retains Sinking Lid Policy

This city currently has 82 pub and club gambling venues and 1,291 pokie machines operating (fewer than the 2,158 machines in 2004 and half the number of venues since that year).

According to a council staff report, despite decreasing machines and Venus, Christchurch still has more machines per capita than the national average. The report’s data 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.”

Mamta Sharma

Mamta is a spirited writer hailing from Wellington, bringing a youthful zest to the world of digital content. Merging her love for narrative with an eye for detail, Ella crafts stories that resonate and engage the modern reader.