Gambling venue policies

Councils have responsibilities under the Gambling Act and Racing Act to play a part in regulating gambling, and must have policies about Class 4 gambling (pokie machines) and TAB venues.

Our policies

On 24 July 2013, Auckland Council's Regional Development and Operations Committee adopted the Auckland Council New Zealand Racing Board (TAB) Venue Policy and the Auckland Council Class 4 Gambling (Pokie) Venue Policy.

These new policies replaced those of the seven former local authorities in Auckland.


Racing Board (TAB) Venue Policy

This policy is a requirement of the Racing Act, and requires the council's approval for new New Zealand Racing Board TAB venues.

The council's policy caps the number of venues to 43, which is the number of venues across Auckland before the policy's adoption. This means the TAB may move its stand-alone venues within Auckland but can have no more than 43 at any one time.

If an existing venue closes, any new TAB may not be established, or moved to, within 50 meters of a place of worship, school, early childhood education facility or marae.

Note that the council does not have the authority to manage TAB facilities in pubs, clubs or self-service TAB machines.

Auckland Council Racing Board (TAB) Venue policy 2013 (PDF 129KB)

Class 4 Gambling (Pokie) Venue Policy

The council’s policy, on both venues and gaming machines, is a sinking lid policy. This means that when an existing Class 4 (pokie) venue closes, the council will not give consent for another to be established.

It also means that a venue cannot increase its number of gaming machines, and that if a venue reduces its machines, it cannot replace them later. Over time, this will lead to a decrease in the number of venues and machines.

The policy also means that existing class 4 venues will not be able to relocate from one part of the city to another.

Class 4 venues will only be able to merge if they are club venues, and the merged venue has fewer gaming machines than the sum of the two existing venues' gaming machines.

Auckland Council Class 4 Gambling (Pokie) Venue policy 2013 (PDF 132KB)

Gambling venue policies review

In 2016, we started reviewing the effectiveness of our two gambling venue policies.

We are currently finalising the reviews. Depending on the results, we will either roll the existing policies over, or develop new policies.

Council's role in gambling

The Auckland Plan identifies the concentration of pokie venues, in particular, in areas of high-deprivation, as an issue of concern for our communities.

However, the council's legislative authority is limited to creating New Zealand Racing Board TAB and Class 4 gambling venue policies, and councils do not have authority to:

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



In 2012, the council submitted to the Commerce Committee of Parliament on the Gambling (Gambling Harm Reduction) Amendment Bill.

We proposed that local authorities should have greater powers for regulating pokie venues in their districts to reduce harm from gambling.

For more information, view our Submission to the Commerce Committee (PDF 294KB).

The council gave formal feedback to the Department of Internal Affairs on its public consultation on four Class 4 gambling proposals in 2013. We raised issues with the distribution of pokie grants money, and showed that grant money is not always being returned to the communities where it is generated in Auckland.

For more information, view our Submission to the Government Administration Committee (PDF 140KB).

In 2015, the council submitted to the Government Administration Committee of Parliament on the Gambling Amendment Bill (No 3). We stated our view that any new payment system must not incentivise operators to maximise the returns from their gaming machines.

For more information, view our Submission to the Department of Internal Affairs (PDF 331KB).

Gambling research

In preparation for adopting our new policies in 2013, we commissioned research that looked at the social and economic impact of gambling.

Community Funding: A Focus on Gaming Grants (PDF 640KB)
Economic Impact of Non-Casino Electronic Gaming Machines (PDF 1.2MB)
Social Impacts of Gaming Machines and TAB Gambling in Auckland (PDF 843KB)

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