In New Zealand, officials in Tauranga have reportedly proposed implementing a ‘sinking lid’ policy towards gaming machines as part of a newly-launched consultation into the northern city’s future policies on licensed gambling.

Discussion to run until November 16:

According to a report from the local Sun Live newspaper, the public discussion is set to run until November 16 and is asking residents to submit their views on the number of gaming machines such as slots currently located across the city of 138,000 people.

The newspaper reported that existing rules allow the city to license one gaming machine for every 220 residents but officials now want to hear if they should implement a ‘sinking lid’ approach that would not permit the premiere of any new units or gambling venues.

Attempt to lessen gambling harms:

Terry Molloy, Community and Culture Committee Chair for Tauranga City Council, reportedly told the Sun Live that the consultation is part of an effort to mitigate the social and economic impacts of gambling so that the North Island city ‘can be safe, resilient and healthy with successful and thriving communities’.

Molloy to the Sun Live…

“This approach will still enable people who wish to participate in responsible gambling to do so but we hope that it will make access somewhat more difficult. We think that this reflects what the community wants as well. We asked residents last year whether they wanted us to review the rules around gaming machines in Tauranga and nearly two-thirds of responses indicated a preference to reduce the number of machines over time. This formal consultation will test this further and help us make a final decision.”

No new gaming venues:

If the ‘sinking lid’ policy is implemented, the newspaper additionally reported that existing venues featuring gaming machines would only be permitted to operate within commercial and industrial areas located at least 100 meters (328 feet) from residential zones with high levels of deprivation. The proposal would also purportedly forbid ‘new growth’ neighborhoods from hosting such facilities and see the city amend its official objectives to reflect an intent to minimize harm from gambling in general instead of only gambling on gaming machines.

Alternative funding sources:

Finally, the Sun Live reported that the city’s 36 gambling venues do currently return some of their proceeds to the community through the sponsorship of sports clubs, local organizations and the racing industry. But, Molloy purportedly declared that the proposed ‘sinking lid’ policy would only slowly reduce the number of gaming machines and, as such, give such recipients sufficient time to identify alternative sources of funding.