A strip club in Napier has had its application to operate nine pokies machines declined because of concerns that there could be too many in the area. This has prompted a council review of its gaming policy. The application in question was made by the Trillian Trust with the intention of operating the machines at The Lumber Yard Strip Club, which currently does not have pokies.
The application was quickly sent to the Napier City Council’s regulatory committee as an urgent matter to be dealt with before the scheduled policy review and its refusal does not mean that another application after the review is off the table.
Napier Mayor Barbara Arnott had no problem with the idea of installing machines in the club, provided it is well-managed, while regulatory service manager Michael Webster said that the existing policy permitted a new pokies venue, but a review would be necessary first to make sure the number of machines permitted had not been exceeded. According to the current policy, a total of 350 machines is permitted, divided between a maximum of 26 venues, but Webster said that a draft policy suggests 20 venues instead. The maximum number of pokies in operation may also soon be reduced.
While Arnott acknowledges that the Trillian Trust contributes towards the community with some of the profits from pokies, her main concern is that Napier currently has the second highest number of pokies per person and that by reducing the number of machines available, less money would be lost to gambling. While it is not her intention to eliminate pokies machines from the area completely, she does want to restrict their use and keep the number of them low. Currently the council has a sinking lid policy in place regarding pokies, although she could not say the extent to which such a policy would go.
Regulatory committee chairman Rob Lutter said that previously a Napier club called the Cosmopolitan Club, now closed down, had been allowed to transfer part of its pokies machine quota to another club in Taradale. However, such a process needs to go through the council before it can be approved. He also said that feedback from the community will also have an influence on the council’s decision as to how many pokies machines should be permitted to operate in the city. The Lumber Yard Strip Club has yet to provide a comment on the matter.