Gambling Act review amid decline

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Creating long-term sustainability and enabling the effective allocation of funds to communities is at the heart of the Gambling Act 2003 class 4 gambling review, Minister of Internal Affairs Peter Dunne says.

Mr Dunne outlined the objectives of the review of the operation of gaming machines, which attracted more than 700 submissions, to those attending the New Zealand Licensing Trust Association conference in Masterton on July 15.

Class 4 gambling refers to gaming machines in pubs and clubs.

Along with long-term sustainability and the effective location of funds, the review also examined whether the legislation remained fit for purpose; whether the sector could be regulated more cost-effectively; and how to prevent or minimise harm from gambling, Mr Dunne said.

Topics for which feedback was sought included legislative restrictions; the role of local government; regulatory functions and costs; club and non-club societies; and the distribution of grants to communities.

“While the Act is generally considered to be working well, we are looking in more depth at how class 4 gambling operates,” Mr Dunne said.

The proceeds from class 4 gambling help fund various community activities and facilities.

“But we know that spending on gaming machines has generally been in decline since the Act was introduced,” he said.

While the decline appeared to have halted in the past three years, the future of this class of gambling – and therefore the community funding associated with it – remained uncertain.

There were also changes to consumer preference in the gambling and hospitality sectors, including developments in online gambling, which was limited to Lotto and some TAB offerings, and by people gambling with offshore providers, he said.

The review would consider whether changes should be concentrated on class 4 gambling, or whether there was potential to increase community funding through other avenues within the gambling portfolio, Mr Dunne said.

“My vision for the class 4 gambling sector is a safe, transparent and trusted gambling sector that benefits New Zealand’s communities, supported by an appropriate regulatory framework.”

Licensing trusts continued to play a key role in achieving that.

“In short, we are seeking the most cost-effective regulatory model possible – one that maximises community funding, without increasing harm or driving growth in gambling.”

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