A government consultation document on online gambling has raised the possibility of greater regulation including a licensing regime similar to that operating in the United Kingdom.
Tracey Martin, the government minister with responsibility for gambling says she was “absolutely shocked” by the amount New Zealanders spend on online gambling through offshore operators each year.
Latest figures put this at $2 million a month (US$1.4 million).
Currently, only the government-owned Lotto and the TAB, owned by the racing industry, can offer online products but it is legal for New Zealanders to gamble through offshore providers.
Objections are raised that the offshore providers do not pay local taxes and do not have to minimize harm, and don’t return any share of the profits to the community
The government’s consultation document raises four possibilities for more regulation ranging from doing nothing to extending the products the TAB and Lotto can offer, to licensing new domestic operators, and licensing both offshore and new domestic operators.
Blocking access to overseas gambling sites and banning the use of credit cards are also raised.
Minister Martin said it was not the government’s intention to stop New Zealanders enjoying gambling but it was concerned to minimize harm and to place domestic and international providers on an equal footing.