The Department of Internal Affairs

Te Tari Taiwhenua | Department of Internal Affairs

Building a safe, prosperous and respected nation


Pokies allowed in smoking area

16 December 2010

The Gambling Commission says gamblers at the Kilbirnie Tavern, Wellington can continue to play the pokies in the pub’s smoking area. It allowed an appeal by gaming machine operator, Lion Foundation against a condition the Department of Internal Affairs wanted to impose on the venue’s gambling licence.

The tavern is one of seven pokie venues where gambling machines are played from smoking areas. The Department argued that the licence condition was necessary because the Secretary of Internal Affairs is required by the Gambling Act to be satisfied that the risks of problem gambling at a venue are minimised – and there is a correlation between smoking and problem gambling. The Lion Foundation said the Department was relitigating an earlier decision where it failed to impose a similar licence condition.

The Commission said the licence condition would prevent the venue’s customers combining two lawful activities undertaken for pleasure, smoking and gambling.

“The condition is unlikely to have any materially beneficial effect on the risk of problem gambling at the venue but its imposition will detract from the enjoyment of the venue’s customers who like to be able to play gaming machines in open areas, where they are permitted by law to smoke,” the Commission said in its decision. “Interfering with the enjoyment of customers carrying out lawful activities for entertainment and thereby with the interests of the operator and, through it, the community, should only be contemplated if it offers tangible benefits. In the Commission’s overall assessment, that is not the case here.”

Gambling Compliance Director, Mike Hill, said the Department felt obliged under the Gambling Act to seek to impose the condition but it accepts the Commission’s decision.
The decision GC31/10 is available on the Gambling Commission’s website,
Media contact:
Trevor Henry, communications adviser, Department of Internal Affairs
Ph 04 495 7211; cell 0275 843 679