Gambling outlets proposed for suburbs

Pokies and TAB outlets could be set up in the suburbs in a new policy being floated by Porirua City Council.

Although the current policy had resulted in fewer gaming machines in Porirua, there had not been a drop in the number of problem gamblers, a council report has said.

The council will now consult on a less restrictive policy, which would allow people to set up gambling venues in suburban shopping areas.

The current policy meant new gambling venues could be set up, but only in the city centre and industrial areas of Porirua.

There was no limit on the total number of gaming machines which could be operated, but each new venue can have only nine gaming machines.

The number of gaming machines in Porirua has fallen by a quarter in the past 10 years, but more than $11.8 million was still spent on gambling in the region last year - about $356 per adult.

Councillor Bronwyn Kropp said it was important for the community to have a discussion about how best to reduce gambling harm, but there also needed to be a conversation about the contribution gambling money made to the community.

"It would be narrow-minded of us to look just at the harm, we need to look at the whole scope of activities being undertaken."

The policy being consulted on would not necessarily mean a TAB could be set up next to the corner dairy, but could mean there were venues in shopping centres such as Mana.

‘"It might not necessarily reduce harm but if harm hasn't been reduced in not allowing these venues then it's not increasing harm. We need to have the discussion and we need to have feedback from all sectors of the community."

Problem Gambling Foundation spokesman George Darroch said the organisation was "utterly opposed" to it, and said there was a high level of gambling already in Porirua.

"This isn't a minor problem of a few people with weak will. A lot of people are genuinely addicted to these machines and they create quite compulsive behaviour with instant feedback."

Darroch said research had proven that reducing accessibility to pokies had reduced gambling harm.

The Dominion Post