Gambling is popular in New Zealand, and has been so ever since it has been made legal around 20 years ago. Although New Zealander gambling laws have since been tightened somewhat, there are still numerous opportunities for players to engage in sports betting or to test their luck on gaming machines.
In fact, politicians in Auckland, the country’s largest city, believe that the opportunities are too numerous, and have decided on some more tightening.
As a result, the Auckland Council passed some new policies, taking effect immediately. These policies target both slots (pokies) and sports betting outlets, aimed at stifling and even reversing their growth and proliferation.
At the heart of the Council’s policies is a ‘sinking lid’ approach to gambling conducted outside casinos, referred to as Class 4 gambling. Clubs and pubs licensed as Class 4 gambling are allowed to operate a limited number of machines, and have been popular among the Kiwi gambling public, especially in the absence of legally accessible online casinos in New Zealand.
The new approach means that when any of these locations closes, its license will not be transferable to a new club. Moreover, no new venues are to be issued a Class 4 license during the next three years, even if their numbers meanwhile decrease.
Venues that merge would also be limited in the number of machines they can keep.
Sports betting will also be curbed. Should any of Auckland’s 43 TAB (Totalizator Agency Board) betting shops close, another one will not be allowed to be opened in the vicinity of a school, kindergarten or a place of worship.
It should be noted, that because TAB is authorized to offer internet betting in New Zealand, and its high street shops will not be reduced in numbers either, sports betting will not be affected as badly as gaming in pubs and clubs.
Proponents of these restrictions cited the rise in the number of problem gambling cases as the reason for tough action.
“This is a victory for Auckland and a victory against pokies, the most harmful form of gambling,” praised the new policies Tony Milne, National Manager of Public Health at the Problem Gambling Foundation.