New Zealand’s Racing Act of 2003 has, until now, been in control of racing and sports betting in the country. The Racing Amendment Bill, currently in its first reading at Parliament where Minister for Racing David Bennet introduced it, could amend this Act and change things quite dramatically.
The motivation for the new Bill, says Bennet, is to see money returned to New Zealand for the bets that its citizens place. Levies are proposed that would impose information charges on international operators offering racing and sports bets on New Zealand markets, and consumption charges for accepting bets from New Zealand punters.
The Racing Amendment Bill’s proposals are based on the recommendations made by the Offshore Racing and Sports Betting Working Group, back in 2015. Essentially, the effect on many of the top online gambling sites is to be immediate. The new amendment is being called ‘a modernisation of the racing and sports betting industry in the country.’
New Zealand Will Be More Competitive
The new Racing Amendment Bill will also allow for in-race or live betting on racing events for the first time, allowing the New Zealand Racing Board to offer more options. This is in line with its stated aim increasing the national Racing Board’s competitiveness.
If international operators either need to comply with the Amendment Bill’s requirements or pay a fine, there’s a chance they may withdraw from offering wagers to New Zealand customers. This is echoed by Mr. Bennet’s reminder that the New Zealand Racing Board is the only authorised provider of sports and racing betting in the country, which he included in his media statement over the new Bill Amendment.
Mr. Bennet went on to assert that the profits from the New Zealand Racing Board have always been used, in part, to support racing and sporting organisations within the country. They have also been used to help address the issue of problem gambling within the country – which, of course, offshore profits have not.
The new Bill not only paves the way for higher profits from the national racing board, to be driven back into the country, but also means that New Zealand will profit much more from offshore sites. By requiring more from international operators and driving the profits that are made from this into the racing and sports sectors (betting operations within its borders included) New Zealand appears to hope to use racing betting to improve the economy.
The Amendment Bill’s Effects for You
Australia also recently introduced new gambling legislation, and made it illegal for online Poker sites to operate from within its borders. Crucially, though, it did not prohibit players from visiting and betting real money at offshore sites. The Racing Amendment Bill in New Zealand is different.
Legally, New Zealanders will still be able to play at offshore sites as long as they pay what is required of them. This could mean a few different things for you and all the other online bettors in the country. Firstly, healthy competition between sites could mean an equalised playing field and better opportunities and benefits for you. On the other hand, there may be some serious underground sites flourishing.
Promotion of Healthy Competition
If huge international operators need to spend a little more, it could put them on a more even keel with the New Zealand Racing Board, so that they are all playing in the same league for the same prize – your custom. More than ever, you shouldn’t settle for anything less than exactly what you want if this is the case.
In the rosy picture of healthy competition, where international sites continue to compete honestly but because they are paying more they have to accept slightly higher bets, everyone will be offering lucrative promotions and great service. The cherries, essentially, will be there for you to pick. Just be sure that any betting site, within New Zealand’s borders or outside, is properly licenced and regulated.
The Dark Side of Underground Sites
The issue of regulated sites is a big one in the other possible scenario too. Offshore sites may not want to pay the costs of legally operating within New Zealand, and will simply go off the grid. To make themselves attractive enough for you to risk betting with them, the deals they offer will seem too good to be true. The bad news is that they probably will be.
Since you have no recourse if an illegal site does a number on you, this might be exactly what they do. Like some of the shadier Bitcoin casinos out there, they could take your money and disappear. If this does happen, it’s likely to be a smaller site without much reputation to lose.
It’s still unclear which way this will go and we are holding out for healthy competition and continued interest from offshore sites. The alternative is a policed environment that keeps New Zealand quite separate. Realistically, the best advice if this happens is to steer clear of nefarious sites and trust that the offers from the New Zealand Racing Board are handsome enough to make betting worth your while.