Online gambling has recently gained increasing popularity in New Zealand and while the industry is enjoying the boom, it has drawn attention from anti-gambling activists and other concerned groups who have proposed that government regulators have adopted an inappropriate approach with regards to dealing with this new trend.
A dicey situation
Despite its availability, online gambling is not fully legal in New Zealand. Players are able to access it via foreign companies, with up to NZ$381 million flowing out of the country over the last 18 months. This detail, in particular, has raised the ire of campaigners, who have in turn placed pressure on New Zealand’s government to take action.
Lawmakers have taken the hint and have begun the process of amending the country’s gambling laws. The Gambling Act, which has not been updated since 2003, is dated and inadequate for dealing with this new wave of technology. On July 31st, the Department of Internal Affairs advised that four major reforms were in the pipeline for the online gambling industry. However, according to activists, these reforms are far too concerned with economic issues, rather than mitigating the potential negative impact on New Zealanders.
Reforms, but at what cost?
Anti-gambling organizations have pointed out that, rather than regulating more strictly, three of the reforms appear to allude to more avenues of gambling being made available to players, with the fourth doing nothing to change the status quo.
The option that seems most likely to succeed would grant the national lottery, currently the only legal online operator, an expanded mandate to introduce its own online gambling platform, including casino games. The issue is still currently pending as no firm decisions have been taken as yet.
The public has been encouraged to provide their input, which will form part of the final resolutions made at the end of September this year.