With online gambling on the rise in New Zealand, many experts warn about the increased risk to those who have gambling addictions.
Problem gambling agencies in New Zealand are not happy with Christchurch Casino's plans to launch their own online gambling platform from Malta in order to bypass the current restrictions that are in place in New Zealand. Bruce Robertson, the chairperson of the company, declared that the new offshore subsidiary would be called Christchurchcasino.com Ltd and that it would team up with a licenced international gambling company.
The Issue for Problem Gambling Agencies
So, what is the main issue that problem gambling agencies have with this plan from Christchurch Casino? Well, their main concern is that online gambling is on the rise in New Zealand with many experts warning about the increased risk to those who can gamble secretly and 24/7. At this moment in time, it is illegal for online gambling to be provided to New Zealanders from betting companies within the country unless it is being provided by the two authorised providers - TAB and Lotto NZ. However, it is perfectly legal for Kiwis to gamble online at websites that are based offshore.
Bridgitte Thornley, the director of the Problem Gambling Foundation Services, said that although the company would not be breaking the law by setting up a website offshore, it was a concern and really disappointing that the casino had decided to use an overseas presence in order to go online. She also declared that it was very cheeky to make use of "ChristchurchCasino" in their domain name since this would make users to believe that it is a trusty New Zealand-based website, despite the fact that it will not be governed by New Zealand regulations and rules. Additionally, if people Googled the name of the casino on the Internet in order to find out information regarding upcoming events or opening times, then they would be led to the site.
Maria Bellringer, a professor of technology at Auckland University states that online gaming is always going to be more harmful than gambling at a land-based casino. This is because a gambler can play at online casinos in secret and whenever they like, no matter what time of day it is. There will be nobody there to supervise or keep a close eye on someone who has been gambling for a long period of time. She goes on to declare that those who are most harmed by gambling are those who cannot afford to do so because they need the money to pay their bills or buy food.
Christchurch Casino Are Not the Only Ones
Christchurch casino are actually the second New Zealand-based company to set up a gambling website offshore. Back in 2019, SkyCity became the first Kiwi casino operator to launch their own online casino abroad, which is also based in Malta. Robertson said that their decision to follow suit was a defensive move that was initiated off the back of the growth of online gambling at the expense of brick-and-mortar casinos.
It is estimated that around $400 million is spent every year by New Zealanders, with almost half of that being spent on online gambling. Therefore, it is clear that those gambling companies that only focus on land-based operations are missing out on a large chunk of the pie. Thus, it is very understandable that such companies want to open up online websites offshore in order to not end up missing out financially.
"New Zealand's Minister of Internal Affairs is soon expected to review the online gambling scene in the country to update the laws that regulate online gambling".
These Sites Can be Regulated
While we fully understand the main issues that problem gambling agencies have with land-based casinos in New Zealand operating online casinos in other countries such as Malta, there is the opportunity for such sites to be set up with rigorous regulations that include maximum spending limits and age verification. Just like with other top online casinos out there, players could also have the option of making use of other responsible gambling measures such as deposit limits and self-exclusion periods. There are now many different responsible gambling measures that can be put in place to ensure that gamblers have plenty of protection.
Robertson has already declared that Christchurch Casino's website would make use of robust responsible gambling measures. For example, it would pay out GST on all gambling by residents of New Zealand, while it would also pay contributions to the Christchurch Casino charitable trust.
New Zealand's Minister of Internal Affairs is soon expected to review the online gambling scene in the country to update the laws that regulate online gambling, and Robertson has said that the company also fully supports a regulatory regime for online gaming, and they hope that a legislative framework regarding online gambling is set up in New Zealand in the near future.
If this happens, then land-based gambling companies in New Zealand would not have to resort to opening up sites abroad, while problem gambling agencies would know that the gamblers are being well looked after. It would be a win-win for both parties.