Photo: Jack Warren

A High Court landmark decision around pokie venues relocating is a step in the right direction, but unlikely to make a big impact on gambling harm reduction in Hawke’s Bay says expert.

In a decision released on February 19, the High Court declared that the Department of Internal Affairs may no longer allow pokie venues to relocate under a previous High Court decision, known as the Waikiwi decision.

‘Feed Families Not Pokies Aotearoa’ deputy chair Colin Bridle said the decision put the power back where it belonged “in the hands of communities, through their local elected representatives.”

It’s a statement Hawke’s Bay Gambling Services’ general manager Cath Healey concurs with.

Healey told BayBuzz the latest data available on Department of Internal Affairs (DIA) website reported Hawke’s Bay lost $12.8 million through gambling on pokie machines between the quarter of July to September 2023.

Annually in 2022 Hawke’s Bay lost $46m and in 2021 $42.7m was lost to the pokies in the region.

“These figures tell us loudly and clearly that the state of gambling on the pokies in Hawke’s Bay is a dire one,” Healey said.

“The pokie machines are a source of harm in our community as they are built for addiction. People who engage with our support tell us how gambling on the pokies has created financial hardship, put strain on their relationships, and adversely impacted their health and quality of life.”

She added that although the decision was a step in the right direction, it would make little impact on reducing gambling harm caused by the pokies in Hawke’s Bay.

“Currently there are 19 venues and 291 pokie machines operating in Napier, 17 venues and 255 pokie machines operating in Hastings, 3 venues and 40 pokies machines operating in Wairoa, and 2 venues and 36 pokie machines operating in Central Hawke’s Bay.

“The high accessibility of pokie venues and pokie machines perpetuates and increases the risk of people experiencing gambling harm in Hawke’s Bay.

“In an ideal world, what we really need is for our local councils to make bold moves and drastically reduce the number of pokie venues in our community and turn away from the unethical community funding model created through pokie revenue.”

She said she hoped, however, the decision would encourage local councils to adopt and enforce sinking lid policies with no relocation, and “to encourage alternative forms of entertainment and recreation in our community which are healthy.

“With local council gambling policy reviews approaching in Hastings, Wairoa, and Napier, it is a great opportunity for our communities to take a stance against these addiction machines.

“It is also hoped that this decision will inspire more whānau to reach out for support and access the services that are available. There is hope. Freedom from gambling harm is possible, with the right supports in place.”


– Te Rangihaeata Oranga Trust / Hawke’s Bay Gambling Services- 022 0423 5220 (text for confidential help), 06 876 6267 (call the office), 0800 422 947 

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