Council urged to allow pokie machine shift to new site

CHRIS GARDNER
Last updated 13:17 26/03/2014

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The Lion Foundation is urging Waitomo District Council to allow the relocation of 18 pokie machines or face losing $182,000 worth of community grants.

The foundation's regional manager, Stephen Parkes, and chief financial officer, Scott Pearson, appeared at yesterday's council meeting to plead their case.

They told the council that the Te Kuiti Hotel, in Rora St, would close in May to make way for a super- market.

Hotel owner Paul Fell was looking at leasing premises at the corner of Carroll and King Sts, and wanted to move the machines there, but could not finalise the lease until he had council consent.

"A relocation provision will not necessarily create a detrimental precedent, considering that only three of the seven venues in the district are currently licensed to operate 18 machines."

Last year the council agreed the Riverside Lodge, in Riverside Lane, Te Kuiti, be allowed to operate four additional pokie machines, bringing its number up to nine.

Urban ward member Terry Davey asked if the Riverside Lodge as a venue turned out to be not viable, as far as pokie machines were concerned, would money from the Lion Foundation dry up?

"That's correct," Mr Parkes said.

"Last year the Lion Foundation gave $182,000 to the community, 90 per cent of what we collected," Mr Parkes said.

"The Te Kuiti Hotel is significant for the Lion Foundation, and it's irreplaceable."

Mr Parkes and Mr Pearson urged the council for a quick response.

"As soon as the machines are switched off at the end of May we have a six-month window, if they are not switched on within six months they disappear."

Mayor Brian Hanna told the deputation that the council had not received any applications from the owners.

"Our gaming policy is up for review shortly, in May. It's timely to have your deputation."

In 27 years the Lion Foundation has returned over $700 million, raised through gambling, back to the community, supporting thousands of causes nationally.

Foodstuffs, the company behind New World, Pak'n'Save and Four Square, plans to build a supermarket on the site of Te Kuiti Hotel. 

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- Waikato

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