New Zealand launches online gambling public consultation


new-zealand-online-gambling-consultationNew Zealand has launched a public consultation on whether or not to authorize a more comprehensive locally-regulated online gambling market.

On Wednesday, New Zealand’s Department of Internal Affairs (DIA) launched a consultation to determine the general public’s views on a potential expansion of the country’s online gambling options. The consultation will run until September 30 and interested parties can check out the details here.

The DIA noted that the country’s gambling laws date back to 2003 and are thus in dire need of a refresh. At present, only the NZ TAB and Lotto NZ – both of which are state-run – are the only entities legally allowed to offer (a restricted range of) online gambling products. Maintaining this status quo is among four options the DIA’s consultation is presenting to Kiwi citizens.

The other options include (a) extending the range of products that Lotto and TAB can offer online, (b) licensing domestic charitable or commercial operators for online gambling, or (c) throwing the doors open to any qualified entity, domestic or international, to provide online gambling products to local residents.

The DIA notes that Kiwis spent around NZ$381m (US$251m) over the past 18 months with internationally licensed online gambling providers. How to discourage patronage of these sites and ‘channel’ Kiwis to local operators is among the challenges the DIA is facing.

The DIA insists that it “doesn’t see online gambling as necessarily ‘bad’” and that this process is not about “outlawing” online gambling for Kiwis, who at present aren’t legally barred from patronizing international gambling sites. But the DIA wants to “future-proof” the country’s laws while minimizing and preventing the potential harms of online gambling on Kiwi society.

On that last note, the DIA wants input on what type of steps it needs to take, including prohibiting or strictly limiting online gambling advertising, ensuring adequate funding of problem gambling programs and public education campaigns, and a possible ban on gambling online via credit cards as potential means of limiting self-harm.

Local casino operator Skycity Entertainment Group recently announced plans to launch its own online gambling operation, which would be powered by Gaming Innovation Group and licensed in Malta. Skycity’s CEO said the launch, which will happen later this year, was made with the “general expectation” that New Zealand would regulate online casino gambling “in the foreseeable future.”