Gambling Venues Policy

(Kaupapa Here Wāhi Petipeti)

The following is a summary of Upper Hutt City Council's Gambling venues policy for the management of new Pokie machine and TAB venues.

Our responsibilities in regards to gambling

Councils have responsibilities under the Gambling Act 2003 (GA) and Racing Industry Act 2020 (RIA) to play a part in regulating gambling, and must have a policy to manage Class 4 gaming machines ("Pokies") and TAB venues.

Upper Hutt City Council supports the primary purposes of the Gambling Act which are to:

  • control the growth of gambling,
  • authorise some gambling and prohibit the rest,
  • facilitate responsible gambling,
  • ensure that money from gambling benefits the community,
  • facilitate community involvement in decisions about the provision of gambling.

These Acts advise that Councils may choose to develop a policy which can be restrictive or permissive depending on the risk profile in the region.

The policy must specify how many Class 4 venues may be established in the city, and where they may be located.  It may also specify the additional requirements, such as requiring that gaming machines are not the primary purpose of the venue, and may include provisions where a venue wishes to relocate to a new location.  

The need for gambling controls

The Gambling Act 2003 classifies gambling based on the amount of money spent and the risk of problem-gambling associated with an activity.  Classes of gambling range from class 1, representing low-stake, low-risk gambling, to class 4, which represents high-risk, high-turnover gambling.  Class 4 gambling is a common form of entertainment in New Zealand, which involves gaming machines (“Pokies”) located in venues other than casinos.

The Gambling Act requires that Class 4 gaming machines may only be operated by a corporate society who have measures in place to mitigate harm from problem gambling.  

Limitations of our authority

Council’s legislative authority is limited to creating a policy for TAB New Zealand and class 4 gaming machine venues.

Council does not have any authority to:

  • control hours of operation of TAB or Pokie venues,
  • close down an existing gambling venue,
  • be involved in decisions about what happens to proceeds of gambling - where and to whom proceeds are distributed,
  • regulate Casinos, Lotto outlets or internet gambling.

Gambling venues policies review

Councils are required to review their gambling policies every three years, and in 2019/20 Council staff reviewed the effectiveness of the existing gambling venue policies.  The recommendations from this review formed the basis for the amended policy which was adopted on 16 September 2020.

The amendments to the policy included:

  • Clarifying that gambling must not be the primary activity of a class 4 gaming machine venue.
  • Clarifying that the location of any new machines or venues must be at least 100 metres from any existing class 4 gaming machine venue, or kindergarten, early childhood centre, kohanga reo, school, or other community facility.
  • Clarifying how a venue may or may not relocate and transfer its existing Pokie machines to a new venue.
  • Combining both class 4 gaming machine venues and New Zealand Racing Board venues (TAB) policies into one document.

These changes should help reduce clusters and the potential impact around sensitive sites. 

It also future-proofs the policy by providing for practical considerations; for instance where an existing building is earthquake-prone or in a zone designated for development of medium-density affordable housing, to be relocated to a more desirable relocation in a new or refurbished premises. Not allowing relocation may entrench some venues in unsuitable and unsafe locations. 

Purpose of this policy 

The purpose of the policy is to:

  • ensure the Council and the community have an influence over the provision and location of new gambling venues in the City,
  • ensure that the provision of class 4 gaming machines is not the primary purpose of these venues,
  • ensure that gaming machines and TABs are located within venues where there is a degree of supervision and control of those using them, in order to help reduce the risk of problem gambling,
  • minimise the harm to the community caused by problem gambling, and
  • allow the community to have access to gambling venues for entertainment purposes, and to benefit from the proceeds which they generate.

Establishment of new gaming machines and venues

An organisation must apply to Council if they want consent for any new machines, or a new venue.  Council will assess the application to ensure that they meet all of the conditions specified in this policy.

Council consent must be granted before a venue licence can be acquired from the Department of Internal Affairs (DIA).

Location of class 4 gaming venues

Any new class 4 gaming machine venues may only be established within the Upper Hutt City business commercial zones, as set out within the Upper Hutt City District Plan.

New class 4 gaming machine venues may not be established within 100m of an existing class 4 gaming machine venue, or kindergarten, early childhood centre, school, or other community facility.

Primary activity of class 4 gaming venues

Gambling must not be the primary activity of any class 4 gaming machine venue.  The primary activity could be the sale of alcohol and food where the venue is subject to an alcohol licence for a hotel, tavern, bar, charted club or club licence (i.e. not being an off-licence or a bring-your-own licence).

Maximum number of gaming machines allowed at a class 4 venue

The maximum number of gaming machines permitted at a single venue is controlled by sections 92 – 94 of the Gambling Act.

In general:

  • Venues that held a licence on 17 October 2001, and have not been without a licence for six months or more, are restricted to a maximum of 18 gaming machines
  • Venues that did not hold a licence on 17 October 2001, or have been without a licence for six months or more, are restricted to a maximum of nine gaming machines.

Maximum limit on the number of class 4 gaming machines permitted

Our policy means that the total number of Pokie machines permitted in the city shall not exceed 174 machines.

Relocation of class 4 gaming machine venues

If an existing class 4 gaming machine venue ceases to operate, the Council may allow the transfer of these machines to a new venue.  The application must satisfy the requirements above, and the new venue cannot have more machines than the existing venue. 

Allowing relocation will permit the movement of gaming machines from high deprivation areas, or unsuitable sites such as a residential area or an area close to a sensitive site (e.g., a school or library), to a more suitable area in the central business district, and potentially into new, vibrant, refurbished premises.

Class 4 venues are not permitted to merge with other venues, as this would create a situation of having a greater number of gaming machines at the new venue.

Download a copy of the gambling venue policy

Gaming Venues Policy 2020(PDF, 141KB)

Applications for new machines and/or venues 

If you wish to increase the number of Pokie machines at a venue, or open a new TAB or Pokie venue, you must first apply to Upper Hutt City Council using the following application form, and pay the appropriate fee at the time of submitting your application.

Application form for local authority consent for gambling venues

Please refer to the Schedule of Fees and Charges for the fees associated with a Class 4 Gaming venue (Pokies) and/or TAB New Zealand venues licence.

Once Council have approved your application, you will then need to apply to the Department of Internal Affairs (DIA)

For more information on gambling please refer to the Department of Internal Affairs website - http://www.dia.govt.nz/Gambling