PGF Calls for 2003 Gambling Act Update

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New Zealand’s Problem Gambling Foundation has stated that the Gambling Act of 2003 is not fit for purpose. There’s a call for it to be revisited as it’s old, outdated and doesn’t limit harm. Radio New Zealand revealed on 5 September this year that almost 70% of Lotto shop sales are from the poorest sections of the country. 

Gambling Problems Easier to Hide

Lotto has granted that too many of its stores are located in low-income areas. Despite this, there is a planned rollout for an online Bingo game in 2023. For that, the expected revenue is NZ$25 million. This is according to a submission by Lotto for approval by Jan Tinetti, Minister of Internal Affairs.

Andree Froude, Marketing and Communications Director for the PGF, has revealed that the number of Lotto shops in underprivileged areas is shocking. It’s well known that more than 50% of pokies venues are in poorer communities, but Lotto has been under less scrutiny. Froude explained that these are the same areas that teem with alcohol and fast-food outlets. This means that these sections of the population are being disproportionately impacted. She added, however, that Lotto purchases are not problematic unless tickets are purchased instead of food. 

Froude stated there’s a definite Gambling Harm issue in New Zealand, partly because it’s so easy to hide. She explained that alcohol and drug problems generally come with physical cues and signs. However, this isn’t the case when it comes to gambling. One out of every five New Zealanders will struggle with some gambling-related matter in their lifetime. However, the stigma linked to this subject means people don’t get help before hitting rock bottom. 

She said most will already have lost their homes and had relationships crumble. Many will also be faced with suicidal ideation before they reach out. Froude urged anyone concerned about their gambling habits to take a test at the PGF website. The test will help them determine if they are still just having fun. This test will also make it possible for them to seek help before the situation gets out of hand.  

Froude wants harsher consequences for the gambling operators responsible for the dangerous products in New Zealand communities who don’t carry enough host responsibility. She wants unethical operations to stop and those responsible for being held accountable. While most New Zealand online casinos are responsible gambling advocates, Lotto operators and shops don’t do much to promote responsible play.

Harm Minimisation Needs Priority

Minister Tinetti has paused the Lotto approval proposal process as she waits for the results of an online gambling review, saying that minimising harm is a crucial consideration. She added that she knows of the havoc gambling addiction can wreak, having witnessed many families impacted by this problem. 

Tinetti stated that she has been entirely transparent with Lotto. The company understands that no decisions will be made concerning their online Bingo rollout until the regulatory regime has been given a thorough review.