Responsible Gambling is everyone’s responsibility and Kiwis are great at coming together as a community to support a good initiative. While gambling can be a fun social way to let off steam, there are also various risks and harms associated with problem gambling. This is where Responsible Gambling comes into play.
Just what is Responsible Gambling?
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Responsible Gambling is a banner tag that is now standard across the world and refers to guidelines, practices, and controls that help stop problem gambling activities. Responsible Gambling is considered everyone’s responsibility within this model; the overseeing body, the gambling operator, and the gambling patrons themselves.
Problem gambling activities are associated with gambling addiction, large losses or binges, and other associated gambling harms, including the impact of gambling on family members and friends of addicts.
Since Responsible Gambling is such a broad term, there are plenty of verticals within the field that must be considered in the context of legal gambling, including mandatory programs and controls, recommended practices, and services accessible for the public.
New Zealand’s current gambling laws
Gambling is currently legal in New Zealand, covered by various regulations in place from 2004 until 2023. The most recent regulations include Gambling (Harm Prevention and Minimization) Amendment Regulations 2023 and Gambling (Infringement Offences) Regulations 2023. The Gambling Act itself was introduced in 2002 and came into effect in 2003. Gambling is legal for those aged 20 and above in New Zealand.
While the act and various regulations mainly cover in-person, physical gambling activities, the regulations also do cover the two in-country online gambling providers: Lotto NZ and TAB. Lotto NZ is the national lottery system, whereas TAB is a sports betting provider. TAB is a government-run agency that has the benefit of being the country’s sole provider of sports betting services to the New Zealand public.
Despite the fact that these are the only service offerings within the country, the government places no restrictions on its residents gambling through the services of offshore operators. The government simply warns that the harm minimization strategies that exist within the country for physical and state-sponsored gambling activities may not exist within these offshore operations.
NZ’s Responsible Gambling strategy
There are many arms to NZ’s Responsible Gambling strategy. In the latest amendments to the act, some of the rules introduced included restrictions on:
- Jackpot advertising and jackpot branding
- The requirement for providers to conduct problem gambling awareness training
- Restrictions on automatic teller machines within venues
- Hiding gaming machines from out of sight of the venue entrance
- Rules for sweeps of gambling venues
- More responsibilities in the chain of command; from venue personnel to venue managers
- Record keeping for venue sweeps and any signs of harm noted
These are just the latest in a long line of requirements for gambling providers.
The New Zealand government supports gambling providers with their requirements for Responsible Gambling through initiatives such as the Gamblehost website where providers can access a pack including checklists, training information, and other useful notes.
Like other countries, New Zealand also offers the option for people to sign Self Exclusion Orders which prevent them from entering a gambling venue.
Gambling harm itself is managed through the Health Department, much like other forms of harm and addiction. The services include a free, 24/7 gambling helpline plus in-person gambling counselling services. Each jurisdiction within NZ may have slightly different services on offer. There are also non-government-supported groups such as Gambler’s Anonymous or SMART Recovery that people who have problems with gambling can attend either in-person or online.
Promoting Responsible Gambling more widely
The huge growth of online gambling has led to many countries around the world now licensing their own in-country providers, however, this is not yet the case with New Zealand. There are no current talks or laws in the works to introduce online gambling more broadly. Despite this fact, residents are free to play at casinos, sports betting houses, and fantasy sports leagues via offshore providers.
For players taking Responsible Gambling seriously, they should look to gambling operators licensed in more highly regulated markets or those that have various controls on their website or app. Controls that are useful in Responsible Gambling include items like maximum daily, weekly, and monthly deposits, max bet amounts, and the ability to self-exclude from an operator for a given time period.
It is wise to carefully evaluate providers before play; some providers have far better terms and conditions of play and protections in place. While the allure of a shiny bonus can be very tempting, it’s better safe than sorry, especially if you feel that you might be a slightly risky player.
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