The new Harm Reduction Bill is gaining a great deal of backing across New Zealand. The Auckland Council has recently expressed its support for the legislation, which would give local city councillors the right to control the number of poker machines within their jurisdictions.
The main provision of the bill is to allow city councillors to limit the number of poker machines in their areas. Once they have decided to remove any machines, the machines must be removed within 12 months of the decision. This single provision makes New Zealand’s Harm Reduction Bill far more effective than any gambling reform that has taken place in Australia.
The bill also gives councils the power to determine whether or not a venue is suitable for Class 4 Gaming. This would mean that all staff will have be trained in responsible gambling practices, placing some responsibility on pub and club owners when it comes to problem gambling in New Zealand.
“This would give us more powers to influence and take action where we feel the presence of one of these venues is likely to cause severe harm to a particular community, or the location is unsuitable,” says Councillor George Wood.
The Harm Reduction Bill will also allow for the arrangement of a system to allocate gaming funds to organizations. This means that gaming trusts will no longer be responsible for doing so, eliminating any bias.