At the latest District Council meeting, the Southland gambling limitations were discussed. Health promoter, Eru Loach led these policy discussions. The gambling machine policies were at the top of the agenda in this latest meeting.
Mr Loach told the council that gambling addiction was challenging to identify because in most cases, it involved other social issues as well. These problems include domestic violence, alcohol and drug abuse. He further told the council that stronger limits on Southland gambling would be far more effective than allowing licence transfers and relocations.
The District Councils currently has minor limitations on Southland gambling operators. The gambling venues are allowed to continue operating gambling machines but cannot get permits on new machines. The Southern District Health Board were also in support of Eru Loach for more restrictive measures.
The Public Health South made a written submission suggesting to the council to include areas such as schools, religious venues and other public locations in its definition of sensitive areas.
Gaming Machine Association Disagrees with Southland Gambling Addiction Problem
A representative of the Gaming Machine Association of New Zealand, Jarrod True, told the council that Southland gambling was not a massive problem in the District. He further expressed that only one person in the area in a year has sought help for gambling addiction.
Mr True thinks stricter measures on Southland gambling may reduce the number of people with gambling addiction. However, he warned that down the line such an action would also reduce the amount of funding that would be available for community groups that depend on gambling financing.
Less Harsh Suggestions Were also Made
The Public Health South also suggested in its written submission that if the District Council insisted on keeping the soft restrictions, then it should at least ensure location limitations. The health organisation further said that the license and location transfer should at least have a boundary restriction of 100m to a sensitive site where children and other vulnerable members of community frequent.
Jarrod True of the Gaming Machine Association of New Zealand also made suggestions that the number of gaming machines should be kept at 88 in Southland. This is the number of gambling machines that are currently available in Southland gambling venues.