The casino industry in Wellington, New Zealand, may be in for a shock. In an effort to tackle problem gambling, a controversial ‘sinking lid’ policy is being considered. The regulation, if put into effect, would effectively drain land based pokies machines from the country’s capital city, and the surrounding regions, over time.
Essentially, the sinking lid law demands that no new operators will be permitted pokies licences, while simultaneously no machines will be allowed to transfer to other casinos. This means that, inevitably, the number of machines will slowly be reduced.
Wellington Councillor Tamatha Paul presented the policy at a council meeting, though there is no word yet on how seriously the regulation is being considered.
A Host Of Changes
As it stands, there are exactly 633 electronic gambling machines in the city of Wellington. If taking the entire region into account, that number grows to 938. According to Paul, the goal would be to reduce that number by 87 over time. The specific zones that would be impacted include Lambton and Pukehinau, as well as Wharangi and Onslow-Western.
Additionally, Paul suggested that a previously scrapped rule be reinstated. The regulation in question states that a gambling machine may not be hosted in any venue that has not specifically been designated as an appropriate establishment. In other words; any venue that was not a casino would have to get rid of its pokies machines, with no exceptions.
A Deeply Controversial Proposal
The sinking lid policy is a deeply controversial one, with many groups pointing out that a drastic loss in funding would be suffered. Wellington organisations such as arts, sports, environmental protection, health, and even education receive roughly NZ$61 million from non-casino venues, more specifically; pubs and clubs. Hence, the proposed law would be nothing short of devastating. The only solution so far offered is that the council would take over funding the operations.
Interestingly enough, even some anti-gambling campaign groups would lose much of their funding, resulting in them voicing their own concerns.
Phil Gibbons, chief executive officer at Sport Wellington, was quick to declare the proposed regulations unacceptable. He stressed that locals should be educated on how reliant the city is on the funding, with the sports sector all but entirely counting on it.
Meanwhile, Paula Snowden of the Problem Gambling Foundation shot back saying that the money was being taken from those who could not afford it, stating that pokies machines were not a valid solution to financial problems.
No doubt more details will emerge as the situation unfolds.