Wellington Scoop

Mayoral candidate wants sinking lid policy for city’s poker machines

Media release from Conor Hill
Mayoral candidate Conor Hill today announced his plan to reduce the harm caused to people by problem gambling in Wellington. Hill wants to see Wellington adopt a sinking lid policy for pokie machines.

He wants to see no new pokie machines in any venues, no relocations of pokie machines, and no mergers of venues with pokies. It’s a position the Problem Gambling Foundation took in its submission to Porirua’s gambing venues policy.

Hill said “It’s important Wellington does what it can to reduce the harm caused by problem gambling. Wellington is behind the curve when it comes to its pokies policy. Twenty other councils have sinking lid policies. On Wednesday Porirua adopted a sinking lid policy, and it’s time Wellington shifted in the right direction.

“It’s embarrassing for this city to be shown up by Auckland, Christchurch, and now Porirua.”

Hill also called out Wellington’s slow review of its current policy. Under the Gambling Act 2003, councils are supposed to review their pokies policy every 3 years, yet Wellington’s gaming policy is now 4 years old.

Hill said “Why does our council not care about the harm done to problem gamblers and their families? It’s yet another area where the council is stuck in stasis, unable to move in the right direction. As mayor I will be moving as quickly as possible to adopt a sinking lid policy for pokies, to reduce the harm caused to people through poker machines.”


  1. Paul Day, 24. August 2019, 12:24

    This is a genuine comment / question. What are the harm statistics that this policy addresses and is there clear evidence the current review process is causing over and above harm? I like your campaign so far Conor but I want to make sure policy critiques and commitments are fact based and in proportion to the problem. I’m a firm believer that the bar should be very high for any government agency to restrict the freedom of its citizens. I understand your desire to do good, though a clearer argument than keeping up with our Councils is required.

  2. Concerned Wellingtonian, 24. August 2019, 13:28

    It seems to me to be a good and reasonable policy as it stands.

  3. Conor Hill, 25. August 2019, 15:29

    Hi Paul, check out the Problem Gambling Foundation website. Personally, for me if there is some kind of minor benefit for casual pokie players it’s massively outweighed by the harm to problem gamblers and their families.

  4. Ty, 25. August 2019, 20:19

    Don’t use Problem Gambling Foundation statistics. They’re a lobby group hell bent on making the 99% suffer for the less than 1% who have a problem. If you want unbiased stats go to Min of Health website. NZ has one of the lowest problem gambling rates in the world at 0.2% of ALL adults – has been for the last 15 years. That’s not 2% its 0.2%! 10% of the population are alcoholics and 30% are obese. Are you going to ban drinking establishments and fast food shops as well?

  5. Andree Froude, 26. August 2019, 11:52

    The Problem Gambling Foundation is an organisation that is not anti-gambling, but works to minimise the harm from gambling. Our team of qualified counsellors provide free and confidential help and support to people experiencing harm from gambling, and our public health team raise awareness of gambling harm in communities. The data we provide is evidence-based and the latest statistics on the rates of harmful gambling in New Zealand are in The Ministry of Health’s Strategy to Prevent and Minimise Gambling Harm 2019/20 to 2021/22. The Strategy states that “one in five New Zealand adults (22%) is affected at some time in their lives by their own gambling or the gambling of others. Estimates suggest that, in New Zealand in 2017, 37,000 people aged 15 years or older were at high risk of harm from gambling or are ‘problem gamblers’, about 47,000 were at moderate risk and a further 106,000 were at low risk but would experience gambling-related harm during their lifetime.” The Strategy also states “The most harmful form of gambling in New Zealand is NCGMs [non casino gaming machines or “pokies”] at pubs/clubs (defined in the Act as class 4); this has been the case for many years.”
    This document can be found here.

    Andree Froude
    Director Communications, Problem Gambling Foundation (PGF Group)