Ensuring that overseas gambling sites don’t undermine New Zealand’s rules is behind a public discussion document on online gambling launched today by Internal Affairs Minister Tracey Martin.
“Our current Gambling Act is from 2003 and like a lot of legislation it is being challenged by the place of the internet,” Minister Martin says. “New technology has changed people’s behavior dramatically and the way New Zealanders gamble has changed too. It’s now timely to check whether our gambling rules are appropriate.”
At present, Lotto NZ and the TAB are the only New Zealand organisations able to offer online gambling and it is illegal for overseas online gambling operators to advertise to New Zealanders. However, betting offshore is legal and New Zealanders have spent about $380 million on offshore gambling sites in the last 18 months.
“A lot of New Zealanders enjoy gambling and it’s not our intention to stop this. However the growth in online gambling challenges our current approach.”
Since the Gambling Act was passed New Zealand’s regulatory regime has been underpinned by a public health approach and based around three principles:
- communities benefit from the proceeds of gambling;
- New Zealanders gamble with trusted operators; and
- gambling-related harm is minimised (with the cost of minimisation and mitigation being carried by gambling providers).
“The problem we have is that, unlike domestic gambling operators, offshore online gambling operators do not pay to mitigate the harm their industry causes, nor do they contribute to the community through funding grants,” Mrs Martin says.
“We also need to assess whether they sufficiently protect vulnerable New Zealanders, particularly our young people who can spend a lot of time online.
“The discussion document outlines key issues and seeks feedback on a range of options.
“For example, New Zealand could establish a licensing system, where online providers must meet certain conditions to be able to legally offer their services in New Zealand. This is what Australia and the United Kingdom do. There are also several tools that could be implemented to limit New Zealander’s access to online gambling sites. These include geo-blocking access to overseas gambling sites or banning the use of credit cards for online gambling.
“There are four basic approaches outlined in the discussion document and we want to know what New Zealanders think about these or any other options for how we should approach online gambling.”
Public consultation will run over a two-month period from today to 30 September 2019.
The discussion document and information on how to make a submission can be found at www.dia.govt.nz/onlinegamblingconsultation.