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Under the Gambling Act 2003, all new class 4 gambling and NZ Racing Board gambling venues require territorial local authority (i.e. city or district council) consent before they can be licensed by the Department of Internal Affairs. Class 4 gambling is defined as any activity that involves the use of a gaming machine outside a casino. Class 4 gaming may only be conducted by a corporate society and only to raise money for community purposes.


The Gambling Act amended the Racing Act 2003 to require that councils adopt a racing board venue policy for their district. The policy must specify whether new New Zealand Racing Board venues (commonly referred to as stand alone TAB agencies) may be established in the city, and if so, where they may be located.

Under the Act, all local authorities must develop policies regarding class 4 venues and board venues while taking into account the views of the community and the social impact of gambling on the local community. Council adopted a Class 4 Gambling and Board Venue Policy on 22 February 2018  and this is currently under review.

Class 4 Gambling and Board Venue Policy - Currently Under Review

Council have now closed the submissions period and we thank you for your feedback.

Council is required, in accordance with the Gambling Act 2003 and Racing Act 2020, to undertake a 3 yearly review of the Class 4 Gambling and Board Venue Policy with regards to the performance of the existing policy over the preceding three years and consideration of options for the next policy period. 

Central Hawke’s Bay District Council adopted a Class 4 Gambling and Board Venue Policy in February 2018.  The current Policy has a cap of 300 residents per machine, allows relocations of premises and has restrictions around where new and relocated venues can undertake their business e.g. there is a restriction around sensitive sites/activities. 

The number of licensed Class 4 Venues operating in the Central Hawke’s Bay District is two. These venues are the Commercial Hotel/PJ’s Bar located at 2 High Street, Waipawa and the Leopard Hotel located at 4/10 Ruataniwha Street, Waipukurau.  Both venues can have a total of 18 gaming machines under the Gambling Act 2003 provisions, which is a total of 36 machines in the Central Hawke’s Bay District. 

Following the most recent triennial review, Council wishes to propose a change in policy from the status quo noted above to a more restrictive policy. Under Section 83 of the Local Government Act, section 102 of the Gambling Act 2003 and section 97 of the Racing Act 2020 Council must consult with the public regarding any changes to the Class 4 Gambling and Board Venue Policy. 

The Proposed Change – Draft Class 4 Gambling and Board Venue Policy – Statement of Proposal 

Council is proposing to amend the current policy in favour of a more restrictive policy which will see an increase in the cap from 300 residents per machine to 500 residents per machine.  It also seeks to remove the ability to relocate existing premises and to include a ‘sinking lid’ policy.  A ‘sinking lid’ policy means that if an existing Class 4 (pokie) venue closes, we will not give consent for another to be established. 

Below is a table which shows the 3 options included in the Statement of Proposal, noting that Council is proposing option 2 highlighted below: 


Policy Setting Possible Benefits  Possible Negative Impacts 

Option 1– Status Quo  

  • Retain the cap at 300 residents per machine  

  • Relocations allowed 

  • Restrictions on any new / relocated venues to be >100metres from sensitive sites / activities

Allowing more machines to operate would possibly increase the level of grant funding available and increase employment.   The grant funding increases are likely to be modest as GMP per machine would likely fall. 

Relocations allow businesses to invest in new premises that generally have better controls on gambling harm, and may provide safer premises in general (e.g., from earthquakes). 

Restrictions on location continues to mitigate potential harm. 

Would allow 2 new venues to be established with 9 machines each.  This is not consistent with the legislation and Council policy of reducing gambling harm. 

Relocations make it easier for existing premises to continue operating. 


Option 2 – More restrictive 

  • Increase the cap at 500 residents per machine   

  • ‘Sinking lid’ 

  • Remove ability for relocations / mergers 

Increasing the current ratio Cap from 300 to 500 would reflect the current number of machines operating.  Setting the number higher (say 600) would continue to seek further reductions in machine numbers.  Either would lock in the recent reductions in venues and machines.  On the current policy 2 new venues could be established with the full 9 machines each allowed.   


A sinking lid provision would set a target of machines or the number of residents per machine that is more restrictive than the current numbers.  Any reduction in machine numbers from closures or reductions would not be able to be replaced.  This has a similar impact as increasing the ratio number above. 

The current venue and machine numbers are low compared to the NZ average and many rural Districts.   


Further reductions from the current numbers may: 

  • inhibit general hospitality growth.  

  • reduce grant funding for the community over time.  

  • cause further movement toward online gambling which is unregulated. 

  • Will not allow for new Class 4 gambling opportunities in District 


Removing ability to relocate will remove options for existing businesses and could result in loss of employment / grants.  Given only two venues are currently operating this could be seen as overly restrictive.

Option 3 – Less Restrictive 

  • Remove or reduce cap ratio to less than 300 residents per machine

Possible additional employment and community grants. 

Would allow more than 2 new venues to be established with 9 machines each.  This is not consistent with the legislation and Council policy of reducing gambling harm. 

Grants are unlikely to increase much as evidenced by the modest reductions seen as venues and machines reduced over the last decade. 

Council seeks to implement the ‘more restrictive’ policy to actively maintain a balance between the social cost of problem gambling and the social benefits of business growth, entertainment and funding for community, cultural, sport and education activities within the wider Central Hawke’s Bay District. 

For Further Information: 

Click on the links for copies of the Statement of Proposal, the proposed Class 4 Gambling and Board Venue Policy 

If you wish to discuss any aspect of the Class 4 Gambling and Board Venue Policy, you may contact the Customer Relationships and Experience Manager, Lisa Harrison by email to or phone 06 857 8060. 

For information on Class 4 Gaming Licensing application, Inspection Fees or any other questions please either e-mail Council or phone on +64 6 857 8060

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Class 4 Gambling and Board Venue Policy FAQs

The Gambling Act 2003 and Racing Industry Act 2020 require Council to have a Class 4 Venues Policy and a TAB Board Venue Policy and these polices must be reviewed every three years. Our next review of this policy is now due. 

Class 4 Gambling refers to any activity that involves the use of gaming machines (also known as ‘pokies’) outside of a casino (e.g. in pubs and clubs) and may only be run by a licensed corporate society. Class 4 Gambling rules also state these machines can only be used to raise money for community organisations and for non-commercial purposes. 

Council can use a policy to control the total number of machines in the district and per venue, and the location of these venues. 

A Board Venue or TAB is a premise that is owned or leased by TAB New Zealand where its main business is providing racing betting or sports betting services. A council must develop a policy which specifies whether or not new TAB venues may be established in that district and, if so, where they can be located. 

There are limited ways a council can influence the harm caused by gambling. One way is to prevent new venues opening, and therefore decreasing the opportunity for gambling to occur. This can be done by lowering the total number of machines that are allowed to operate in the district. Another is to limit the ability of existing venues to relocate within the district. 

When a review of a Class 4 Gambling and Board Venue Policy takes place an assessment of the social impacts of gambling must be completed. We’ve recently completed a review that showed while the number of Class 4 gambling venues and machines has dropped in the Central Hawke’s Bay District, the average spend has still stayed relatively the same. 

The availability of funding to community and local sports groups is considered a key benefit to the district from having Class 4 gambling venues.  This has also been taken into consideration as part of the review. 

There is currently a cap of 1 machine per 300 residents allowed in the Central Hawke’s Bay District at any time, and we are proposing the 2021 policy adopts a sinking lid policy and to increase the cap of machines to 1 machine per 500 residents as this brings the ratio in line with the current statistics, in relation to current number of machines to residents, for Central Hawke’s Bay District. We are also proposing that Council adopt a no relocations policy. 

The implementation of a sinking lid means the number of gaming machines will not increase and if a venue closes the machines cannot be transferred or relocated elsewhere. This will result in a natural attrition in the number of venues and machines over time but would not affect existing venues or current community grant funding in the short term as the decline occurs slowly. 


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