The ‘Sinking Lid’ Consultation Policy in New Zealand

The ‘sinking lid’ is a policy that was started with the goal of trying to curb people’s access to pokie or gaming machines and to reduce problem gambling.  The policy has been under constant review, and the stakeholders hold that it should remain in place.

In New Zealand, the policy has been operational in some cities while others are beginning to pick it up. In Tauranga, officials have proposed implementing the policy on gambling machines as a section of the recently-launched consultation into the city’s future regulations on licensed gambling.

According to a report, the existing rules allow the city to license one poker machine for every 220 residents. However, those in support of the ‘sinking lid’ want to implement the approach that will prevent the opening of any gambling venues or new machines.

Old High Court and Supreme Court Wellington
Old High Court and Supreme Court Wellington New Zealand 2015

‘Sinking Lid’ to prevent Future Gambling Problems

The stakeholders behind implementing the ‘sinking lid’ in Tauranga are in the view that the consultation is part of their effort to moderate the social and economic impacts of gambling ensuring a safe, healthy and resilient city.

The goal of the policy is to allow those wishing to take part in responsible gambling do so but with reduced access to the gambling facilities.  The committee is quick to note that this is not an in-house decision, but they decided after considering responses they gathered from the public about gambling machines.

A survey conducted in the Northern Island City reveals that two-thirds of the responses are in support of a reduced number of gambling machines

Gaming Machines to be Located 100 Meters from Highly-deprived Residential Zones

Should the ‘sinking lid’ policy be implemented in Tauranga, the existing gaming machines venues would be allowed to continue operating only if they operate within industrial and commercial areas that are at least 100 meters from residential areas with high deprivation levels.

Also, this would mean that no new gambling machines are allowed in upcoming neighborhoods. The policy focuses on leading the city towards amending its objectives and work more toward ensuring that harmful gambling is reduced.

Sinking lid policy to Remain in Christchurch City

In Christchurch, the ‘sinking lid’ policy has been operational for some time now, and it is proposed that it is likely to stay.

For the last 14 years, the City council has had a policy that prevents any new class 4 gambling licenses from being issued or approved.  This policy aimed to reduce people’s access to gaming machines as well as to reduce problem gambling.   The policy has undergone constant review, and each time it has been decided that the policy should stay.

Christchurch City tops in the number of gaming machines per head population that the national average.  In April 2018, the city alone had 1332 pokie machines in 86 class 4 gambling locations.  This statistics is alarming considering the fact that class 4 gambling industry is declining in New Zealand.  Considering all other major cities, only Tauranga homes more gaming machines per capita.

Statistics also reveal that Christchurch has a high number of problem gambling. This is one reason why the stakeholders are keen to ensure that the sinking lid policy doesn’t fade.  The policy is still considered as the only viable way of reducing the number of gambling opportunities in the city.

Tauranga and Christchurch is a representative of the sinking lid policy in New Zealand. While Christchurch has used the policy for years, Tauranga is in its early stages of implementation. 19 other territorial authorities in New Zealand have adapted to a similar policy.  The policy also covers TAB venues which are allowed to be established in the city provided that they meet all other laws and City Plan requirements.

Last Updated: December 6, 2021