NZ’s Amended Gambling Regulation to Reduce the Harm of Pokies Takes Effect from end of 2023
In a significant step towards curbing the adverse effects of gambling, New Zealand has passed a series of amendments to the Gambling Act, which will be enforced from September 2023.
The new laws are outlined in three sections of the Gambling (Harm Prevention and Minimization) Amendment Regulations 2023. Part 1 of the Amendment highlights a restriction on jackpot advertising and casino venues. Part 2 deals with amendments to training of staff and guidance on maintaining records and identifying problem gamblers.
Part 3 of the document outlines how gambling venues must ensure that all automatic teller machines are in the line of sight of staff at the main bar area of the venue. Pokie machines must not be visible outside the venue except if an external door is in use. Furthermore, the venue manager must ensure that personnel conduct a gambling area sweep at least 3 times per hour, with each sweep being at least 10 minutes after the previous sweep.
Internal Affairs Minister Jan Tinetti said that the changes reduce the harm caused by pokies and make the online casino pokie venues in NZ conform to clearer and stronger responsible gambling requirements.
The changes to reduce the potential damage of pokies at NZ casinos include:
- Compulsory training annually for all staff dealing with gamblers
- Recording signs of regular sweeps and recording signs of gambling harm
- Rules to support harm minimization by ensuring staff can monitor ATMs
- Pokie machines will soon be placed less visibly
What the Amendments to the Law Mean for Online Casino Players
There are many reasons why the government decided to enforce stricter pokie game laws. According to studies, pokies are highly addictive as they trigger the brain’s reward system. While most pokie players enjoy them as entertainment, for a small group of people, especially those who are severely stressed or depressed, pokies can be damaging.
Players predisposed to gambling addiction will chase wins and spend money they don’t have. Due to the mental health, vulnerable gamblers can have financial problems, leading to bankruptcy. Pokie players with a gambling addiction can have strained family relationships and may even steal to fund their gambling.
As a mental health condition, gambling problems can strain the healthcare system and the overall community’s economic health system. The amendments to the law will ensure that harm is reduced.
With the new laws forcing gambling venues to provide problem gambling awareness training for the manager of the venue and any employee in direct contact with players, responsible gambling will be enforced.
When approaching a player who may be experiencing difficulties relating to gambling, the pokie venue can give the player more information about problem gambling, including the dangers and available treatments. Management and staff can remind players that they can identify as problem gamblers and seek self-exclusion for up to 2 years.
Why does it Target Pokies and Not Other Casino Games?
As they play havoc with our brain’s reward systems, pokies are designed to be addictive. They give players unrealistic impressions of the winning odds and confuse them about how much they have lost, and that’s when chasing wins starts.
According to the DIA (Department of Internal Affairs), pokies are the most harmful gambling games in New Zealand. Every year, Kiwis lose nearly NZ$1 billion on pokies; in fact, one in five pokie players are considered at-risk gamblers.
To reduce the effects caused by playing pokies, New Zealand gambling authorities suggest the following:
- Ensure that pokie players take regular breaks to interrupt continuous playing
- Pokies should have more information, including harm-minimization messaging
- Mandatory technology on pokies so users can set their budget before gambling
- Facial recognition technology on the pokies to identify excluded gamblers
- Reducing the size of the maximum stake
Pokies are addictive by design, which makes users want to play as long as possible. Compared to Lotto, where you purchase your ticket and can wait up to a week for your winnings, pokies are a continuous form of gambling and winnings can immediately be “reinvested.” Pokies are known to deliver false wins. This happens when you get back a win on a multi-line bet, and even if your win is less than your bet, the machine’s bells and whistles will deceive you into thinking you’ve won.
Gambling on pokies is a solitary activity that encourages uninterrupted play. The bonus rounds and free spins will make you feel you’re doing better than you really are.
Background of Gambling in NZ
New Zealand was discovered in 1769 by James Cook, a British explorer, and by the 1800s, NZ attracted many people from different European countries, especially Great Britain.
Gambling had an impeccable connection with Britain, with horse racing being the most popular sport in Britain. Naturally, horse racing didn’t take long to become the main attraction. The first NZ horse racing event was in 1835 in the Bay of Islands, and by the 19th century, Kiwis began betting on cards.
While gambling has likely been in New Zealand as long as there have been people, in 1908, the Gambling Act changed things. With this new law, horse racing was the only legal gambling allowed. In 1951, the Totalisator Agency Board started to relax gambling laws, and the Golden Kiwi lottery was soon born.
New Zealand has five brick-and-mortar casinos, allowing tourists the time of their lives by placing bets and enjoying great food and entertainment. The first legal NZ casino opened in Christchurch in 1994, followed by Dunedin, Queenstown, Hamilton and Auckland casinos.
From the early days of simple bets to today’s new NZ online casinos, the NZ gambling landscape has changed significantly over the years. New Zealanders love to gamble, and the majority do it responsibly. It doesn’t seem that gambling is leaving the country any time soon.
There has been growing concern about gambling-related harm and its societal impact at top online casinos NZ. To combat gambling addiction, the Department of Internal Affairs aims to implement stricter regulations to protect gamblers from any potential damage.
Gambling is one of the oldest pastimes in the world, and just like much of the world, New Zealanders love to gamble. Gambling in NZ is controlled by the Department of Internal Affairs, which ensures that gambling returns a percentage of the proceeds to the community. No legal online casinos are operating in NZ. Modern laws that govern gambling are the Gambling Act of 2003, covering gambling games and the Racing Act of 2003, covering sports betting and racing.
The new NZ regulations include deposit limits, time limits on play sessions, mandatory training for all gambling staff and self-exclusion for players at risk of developing gambling addiction. The changes have come about to ensure pokie venues identify and act upon harmful gambling consistently and more often. Those who fail to comply with the regulations on harm minimization for pokies will be penalized.