Online Gambling On The Rise In New Zealand

Tia Winter | 22 August 2019

Recent reports have revealed that online gambling is seeing a massive increase in popularity in New Zealand. This is good news for the industry, but anti-gambling campaigners in the country have the opposite perspective. According to various campaign groups, government regulatory authorities have been approaching the online industry in the wrong manner, providing unintentional publicity instead of protection.

But the situation is more complicated than it seems. Online gambling is not officially legal in New Zealand. So, the increase in digital gaming is exclusively based around foreign companies, specifically those that operate beyond the borders of the country. Reports say that locals have been pouring money into the offshore establishments, as much as NZ$381 million over 18 months. It is a situation that campaigners are calling unacceptable, which in turn has sparked action from the government.

Regulation Law Review

Local lawmakers have thus been kicked into sixth gear, with a firm focus on rectifying the situation. Regulation authorities have announced that a review of current gambling laws is in order, with potential plans to make unspecified changes. If such changes do occur, it would be the first time since 2003 that the Gambling Act would see alteration. Either way, general consensus is that a major update is in order, since the 2003 laws were based around an industry where the online world did not present significance.

July 31st saw a detailed proposal put forward by the Department of Internal Affairs. The basis of the proposal was 4 major options for reform, all of which targeted the online casino industry. But according to campaigners, the options were far more concerned with economic issues rather that the wellbeing of the New Zealand people.

Four Reform Options

Of the four reform options, anti-gambling organisations pointed out that 3 were propagating the idea that more avenues for gambling be introduced into the country. The last simply proposed that things stay the way they are, with no real action being taken. None addressed the potential harm of the situation, or even took into consideration how games of chance impacted the locals.

As it stands, the option most likely to be adopted grants more power to the only currently legal online operator; the lottery. If adopted, the regulation adjustment would see this online operator allowed to expand services, including casino games. No decisions have yet been made, but the matter is open to public opinion until the end of September.