New Zealand’s Department of Inland Affairs has launched an initiative aimed at reforming the country’s 2003 Gambling Bill in order to better align the local gaming industry with the spirit of the current digital age. But despite whatever the department’s true intentions really are, many are pointing fingers at government and are accusing the department of being more focused on profit margins than on the well-being of the country’s citizens.
Even so, the department has officially launched a consultation initiative aimed at testing the waters of public opinion regarding the implementation of 4 significant changes to current legislation governing the online gambling industry. The public consultation period will officially run until September 30th, after which a final decision will in all likelihood be announced.
What Changes May Come
The department has identified three mainstream options. The first and least drastic of these involves allowing the current online operators, being TAB and Lotto NZ, more leeway by allowing these to offer a greater variety of games to online players. The hope is that such a move would incentivise players to engage in games offered by TAB and Lotto NZ instead of looking to foreign operators for online gaming entertainment.
The second of the options would make provision for more licenses to be issued to local New Zealand-based operators. This will open up the existing market considerably and will moreover ensure that the control over games and content and safeguards remains in the hands of local regulators.
The third option would be the most drastic in terms of change. This will allow local as well as foreign operators to apply for a licence to offer digital games to online players in the country. The fourth and final option would be for things to remain as-is.
No Alarm Yet
New Zealand’s Ministry of Health has declared that it would not oppose a move that would allow foreign operator involvement, as this option certainly appears to involve more positive than negative implications.
The Ministry of Health has confirmed that the number of players to have declared online gambling to be addictive and a significant problem is significantly low. But anti-gambling activists are of the opinion that this is because of the fact that online gambling is fairly new in the country.
Post-September 30 will reveal all.