Reports have shown that online gambling is becoming more popular in New Zealand, but in anti-gambling campaigners’ opinion, the new Government has been focused on regulating the sector in a way that would be good for the industry, rather than in a way that would provide people with maximum protection against gambling-related harm.
An increasing number of New Zealand citizens have been pouring money into offshore casinos and sports betting websites which provide them with the chance to gamble online. According to recent reports, New Zealanders have spent a total of NZ$381 million on offshore online gambling websites over the past 18 months. The country’s Government, on the other hand, has unveiled plans to review the 2003 Gambling Act in order to make sure that the piece of legislation is up-to-date so that it faces technological changes and industry upgrades in the best way possible.
On July 31st, the Department of Internal Affairs rolled out a discussion document in which four options for future reform are suggested. Unfortunately, according to anti-gambling campaigners, the discussion paper released by the Department is more focused on things which are good for the economy, rather than on decisions which would reduce gambling-related harm from local residents.
The truth is that three out of the four options for reform would allow more gambling products to be accessible to New Zealand residents. The fourth option is actually a suggestion for keeping the current status quo as it is. Pubic submissions on the proposal could be made until the end of September.
Several Options for Gambling Products Reform Unveiled by the Government
For the time being, the TAB and Lotto are the only providers who are legally allowed to offer online gambling.
One of the reform options offered by the Government would permit either of them expand their online gambling product offering, including an online casino. According to the Government, such a change would actually encourage local gamblers to return to the New Zealand market.
The other option, which is considered to be better for the economy rather than focused on players’ prosperity, would open New Zealand’s gambling sector for new licensed operators. Reportedly, one of those new additions to the industry could be SkyCity, which rolled out a Malta-based online casino site earlier in August. The company has previously reiterated that it is interested in expanding its presence by adding a new website for New Zealand customers if such was to be allowed.
Under the third option, which the country’s Government has proposed, international gambling firms would be allowed to apply for operating licenses in New Zealand. According to the Department of Internal Affairs, increased competition would make sure local residents are provided with the best betting odds and promotions.
According to reports, the value of global online gambling is expected to more than double in the period from 2017 to 2024. In comparison, the prevalence of online gambling in New Zealand is proliferating.
The most recent financial report unveiled by the New Zealand Racing Board, which operates the TAB, has shown that the company’s digital channels account for up to 60% of its overall betting turnover. In addition, its mobile gambling application has been reported as the fastest growing “customer touchpoint”, after registering a 59% growth in a year only.