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The Department of Internal Affairs

The Department of Internal Affairs

Te Tari Taiwhenua

Building a safe, prosperous and respected nation


Services › Casino and Non-Casino Gaming › Info for Territorial Authorities

Territorial authorities in New Zealand must have a Class 4 gambling venue policy, which must be reviewed within three years of being adopted and thereafter every three years.

This page is designed to provide helpful information for territorial authorities who are reviewing their gambling venue policies. It is not intended to be a substitute for independent legal advice, or independent research into regional issues.

Impact of relocation provisions on existing Class 4 venue policies

The Gambling (Gambling Harm Reduction) Amendment Act (the Amendment Act) originated as a Member’s bill in the name of Te Ururoa Flavell. The select committee that considered public submissions on the bill recommended the inclusion of the new provisions on relocation policies. The provisions, which came into effect on 14 September 2013, provide a tool for Territorial Authorities (TAs) to help address the concentration of gaming machine venues in high deprivation areas.

Class 4 Gambling Venue Policy

This policy must consider the social impact of gambling within the territorial authority's district and specify whether or not Class 4 venues may be established in the district and, if so, where they may be located.

Matters a territorial authority may have to consider in determining its policy include:
  • The characteristics of the district and parts of the district
  • The location of kindergartens, early childhood centres, schools, places of worship, and other community facilities
  • The number of gaming machines that should be permitted to operate at any venue or Class of venue
  • The cumulative effects of additional opportunities for gambling in the district
  • How close any venue should be permitted to be to any other venue
  • What the primary activity at any venue should be.
The policy may also specify restrictions on the maximum number of machines that may be operated at a Class 4 venue. This policy can be adopted, amended or replaced only through the use of the special consultative procedure outlined in the Local Government Act 2002.

There is more information about what is required in a Class 4 gambling policy in the Gambling Act 2003. Sections 95, 96 and 98-103 are the most relevant sections dealing with these requirements.

TAB Venue Policy

Every territorial authority must also have a TAB venue policy. Territorial authorities must also develop and review these policies through the use of the special consultative procedure outlined in the
Local Government Act 2002 and have regard to the social impact of gambling in the territorial authority district. They must be reviewed every three years.

The policy must specify whether the New Zealand Racing Board may establish new stand-alone TABs (i.e. the policy does not deal with TABs in pubs and clubs) in the district and, if so, where they may be located. The New Zealand Racing Board requires a consent from the relevant territorial authority before it establishes a new stand-alone TAB.

Territorial authorities should ensure that the wording of their policies clearly covers every possible situation (for example, a proposal to relocate a TAB from one place to another).

There are some very specific steps for territorial authorities to follow when making their TAB venue policies. The relevant provisions are sections 65A to 65E of the Racing Act 2003.

Obtaining Territorial Authority Consent

Generally, a society must obtain a territorial authority consent in the following circumstances:
  • If a society proposes to increase the number of machines that may be operated at a Class 4 venue (whether by way of an application for, or amendment to, a Class 4 venue licence, and whether or not in association with an application for ministerial discretion under section 95 or 96)
  • The first time there is an application for a Class 4 venue licence for a venue for which a Class 4 venue licence was not held on 17 October 2001
  • If a society applies for a Class 4 venue licence and a Class 4 venue licence has not been held by any society for the venue within the last six months.
A territorial authority must consider every application for a territorial authority consent in accordance with its gambling venue policy. The territorial authority cannot issue a consent until its gambling venue policy is in place.

The territorial authority may or may not place a condition on gaming machine numbers. It may not place other conditions. It's important to note that any proposed 'cap' in gaming machine numbers would only affect new venues as existing venues already have a statutory entitlement to the number of machines they are operating.

Note: A territorial authority consent is not revocable once issued, nor can it lapse or expire - it is a one off assent to a situation. A territorial authority also does not have any retrospective powers with regards to any consented venues once they have entered the Department's licensing process. Once a territorial authority consent has been used and a licence issued for the venue concerned, the consent remains in effect for as long as a class 4 licence is held for the venue. If there is subsequently a period of more than six months where a class 4 licence is not held for the venue, the territorial authority consent ceases to have any effect. The venue becomes a "new" venue under the Act and an application for a new consent must be made to the territorial authority. This application must be assessed under the territorial authority’s class 4 venue policy that is current at the time of application.

When the Department receives a territorial consent for venue licensing, in order to assess its validity/lawfulness the Department looks at:
  • Whether the relevant territorial policy, on it's face, allowed the issuing of that consent
  • Whether any amendment made to a territorial authority policy was made lawfully with the use of the special consultative procedure in the Local Government Act 2002
  • Any other information the Department is aware of that suggests a consent is not valid.

Resource for Territorial Authorities' Policy Reviews

The Ministry of Health has recently worked with the Department of Internal Affairs and Local Government New Zealand to complete a Resource for Local Government, which is available for download on the
Ministry's website (Note: This resource is temporarily unavailable. Please check back later for updates). The purpose of the resource is to assist territorial authorities with their Class 4 and TAB gambling venue policy reviews.

This resource includes:
  • information about gambling legislation and the roles of various Government departments in New Zealand
  • the role of the territorial authorities in reviewing their gambling venue policies (including what they are required to do, what they may choose to do, and what they cannot do)
  • gambling venue policy options for territorial authorities
  • background information on the economic and social impacts of gambling and problem gambling in New Zealand
  • guidance on the statistics that could be used to inform gambling policies, based on available and well-referenced research
  • guidance on how the territorial authority could best present the statistical information (using tables, graphs, and/or charts) so that it is easily understood.

Advice from the Department to Territorial Authorities

The Department sent a
Letter to Territorial Authorities (PDF, 122K)* on 22 February 2007 advising them of some of the gambling and problem gambling statistics and information they may want to consider when reviewing their policies.

Tips for Developing Policies

The tips below should help you when it comes to developing your Class 4 gambling venue and/or TAB venue policies:
  • Make sure the wording of your policy clearly covers every situation you intend it to cover. The policy should clearly state how it would operate in every circumstance envisaged by the Act (i.e. club applications under sections 95 and 96, and proposals for a group to relocate from one venue to another)
  • Ensure that your policy's wording is consistent with the Act - that it includes all elements that are required to be included and does not take irrelevant considerations into account
  • Make it clear whether you intend a policy to be permissive or prescriptive, and ensure it is phrased accordingly
  • Remember, what you think a policy allows may not appear so to an independent reader. Mistakes in drafting could be expensive to rectify at a future date
  • Ensure changes to a gambling venue policy are consulted on and documented in a manner that complies with the relevant legislation
  • If in doubt seek legal advice.

Frequently Asked Questions

We hear that gaming machine profits have dropped. Do we have any regional/national figures on the extent of any 'drop' at all?

Each year the Department releases gambling expenditure statistics that shows the amount spent on the four main types of gambling activity - racing and sports betting, New Zealand Lotteries Commission products, gaming machines (outside casinos) and casinos - from 1985 onwards. This information is available on the
Gambling Statistics page.

The amount paid to community purposes from non-casino gaming machines depends not only on the level of gaming machine revenue, but also on the costs taken out, and any misappropriation from that revenue. "Gaming machine revenue" is the same as "spending" or "expenditure". It is the amount players lose on the machines.

The number of non-casino gaming machines reached a peak of 25,221 at 30 June 2003, and between June 2008 and June 2009 numbers declined from 19,856 to 19,479. The number of non-casino gaming machine venues declined from 1552 to 1501 over the same period. Numbers have declined further since.

The Department compiles these statistics using information from the
Electronic Monitoring System (EMS), gambling operators and third party sources. All non-casino gaming machines were connected to the EMS from 9 March 2007. The Department releases EMS data on a quarterly basis.

To what extent does the availability of gaming machines contribute to or act as a 'driver' for harm?

Information on the link between the availability of gaming machines, particularly in lower socio-economic areas, and harm from gambling can be found in
Problem Gambling Geography of New Zealand on the Ministry of Health website. This website also contains statistical information on presentation numbers for treatment for problem gambling.

Some territorial authorities have population ratio based caps. How effective are these given there is uncertainty about actual population levels between censuses?

Some territorial authorities that have used population caps define the population of the district in terms of the usual resident estimates available from Statistics New Zealand on a particular day each year. Other territorial authorities have used the official census night figure. The Department has no information on their effectiveness.

What information do you have on national/regional expenditure on Gaming Machines? National or regional social impact material?

Currently expenditure data is gathered annually on a national level. See the
Gambling Statistics page for useful information including:
  • Gambling venues and numbers of machines by territorial authority as at a certain date
  • Difference in gaming machine venues and numbers by territorial authority region from June 2006 (or earlier) to September 2006
  • National gambling expenditure information up to 30 September 2006.
The Department also has a range of Research Reports containing information on the social impact of gambling.

The implementation of the Electronic Monitoring System (EMS) means more accurate regional expenditure data will soon be available. The Department is also initiating a project aimed at gathering detailed, regular data on grants, including grants by TA district. With respects to regional grant information, you may want to contact Societies.

For more general research, there are a couple of reports on the Ministry of Health website, which may be useful.

Are we required to mandate that gambling venues must have a liquor licence?

A territorial authority can choose to place this requirement in their Gambling Venue Policy as a 'relevant matter' but no, this is not a requirement for the Gambling Act or the Department.

Are we required to use the Special Consultative Procedure (SCP) if we have reviewed our Act and are just carrying it over?

In the Department's opinion, no, the SCP is only necessary when adopting a Gambling Venue Policy for the first time or otherwise amending, changing or replacing a Gambling Venue Policy.

Should we just use the gaming machine statistics on the Internet or speak to DIA about current machine numbers?

While the machine numbers data on the internet provides a useful snapshot, we urge territorial authorities wanting an up-to-date appreciation of what is operating in their district to get in touch with us and make a section 103 request.

Are children banned from gambling venues?

Children are not banned from gambling areas or gambling venues outright. They are not permitted to engage in Class 4 or other restricted gambling and the venue operator has a duty to minimise the possibility of under 18 year olds gaining access to Class 4 gambling.

Do we really need to engage in an expensive social impact study in reviewing our Gambling Venue Policy?

It is entirely over to the territorial authority as to how it wants to manage its regional social impact assessment.

More Information

If your query is not answered above or you would like further advice please contact Jason Hewett on 04 495 7264 or email him using the form

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