We are reviewing our Gambling Venues Policy.

Waikato District Council is required to have policies in place around where and how venues can host electronic gaming machines (pokies), and standalone TAB venues. We have combined these two policies into one policy document, the Gambling Venues Policy, which is required to be reviewed every three years. This policy was last reviewed in 2021 and is now due for review.

How you can help us

We are proposing to continue with our current policy approach, as we believe this provides the best balance between working to minimise gambling harm and allowing for the recreational use of Class 4 gambling machines as a social activity. It also allows for community groups and organisations to continue to access grant funding streams.

Reasons for the proposed policy

The objectives of the Gambling Venues Policy (incorporating both the Class 4 Venues Policy and TAB Venues Policy) are to:

  • control the growth of gambling within the district; and
  • minimise the harm of gambling; and
  • reflect the views of the local community in respect of the provision of gambling within the district.

The Class 4 Gambling Venues Policy (under the Gambling Act 2003) sets out the rules and restrictions we have in place for venues wanting to operate Class 4 electronic gaming machines (pokies) in our district.

The TAB Venues Policy (under the Racing Industry Act 2020) sets out the rules and restrictions for licensing of standalone TAB venues in our district. We do not currently have any standalone TAB venues; however, the policy does allow for them to be established, under certain conditions.

The key elements of the Policy

A summary of the key elements of the Gambling Venues Policy are noted below.

Class 4 Gambling Venues Policy

Licensing of venues to operate machines.

The policy DOES NOT allow for any new Class 4 Gambling licenses to be issued, as a part of its ‘sinking lid policy’ to reduce the number of machines in the district over time (clause 5).

Location and number of machines.

The policy allows Council to consider the impacts of any gambling on the community when assessing applications for licences (associated with the number of Class 4 gambling machines and/or relocations, or mergers, of venues as outlined in clauses 7,8 and 9), as well as any community facilities such as schools and early childhood centres that may be within the vicinity (clause 2.1.5).

The maximum number of machines any venue may be licensed for is nine (for any license issued after September 2003, as prior to that, the maximum number allowed for was 18) (clause 2.5).

Relocation of Class 4 venues and license merger conditions.

The policy sets out the conditions under which a license may be relocated (clause 2.8). This includes:

  • Being in an area with the same, or lower, deprivation index;
  • Not being within 100m of certain community facilities;
  • Being within the same community of interest; and
  • Not being with 100m of another Class 4 venue.

It also places conditions on when a license merger can take place. These include the maximum number of gaming machines that may be approved being five-sixths of the total number of gambling machines that the merging clubs are licensed for at the time of application, up to a maximum of 18 machines.

TAB Venues Policy:

The policy allows Council to consider applications for a new TAB venue to be established, noting that consideration will be given to:

  • Whether or not a TAB venue can be established in the district; and
  • Where such a venue may be located, according to:
    • The location of community facilities like educational institutions and places of worship
    • The potential impacts of further gambling opportunities being created
    • The characteristics of the district.

Please note this policy does not have any legislative scope to govern TAB terminals in other venues, only standalone TAB stores. The policy also has no ability to govern online gambling activities.