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Gaming Act Review

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Gaming Review Decisions

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Gaming Review Decisions

18 October 2001

This summary of high level decisions indicates the direction of the Gaming Review and what the Government wants to achieve. Further details will be released when the Responsible Gambling Bill is introduced.

Index (links)
Key themes
The Responsible Gambling Bill
Gaming machines
Gaming machine transition issues
New Zealand Lotteries Commission and Lottery Grants Board
Racing/sports betting
Problem gambling management
The new regulatory regime
The Gaming Review

Key Themes
  • The four key themes underpinning the Government’s decisions are:
- Gambling will be primarily used to raise funds for the community
- The harm caused by gambling will be minimised
- There will be local involvement in decisions about the availability in communities of the more risky forms of gambling
- There will be controls on the growth of gambling.

The Responsible Gambling Bill
  • A Responsible Gambling Bill will be introduced and referred to Select Committee. We expect this to happen before Christmas.
  • The public will have a further opportunity to make submissions when the Bill is before the Select Committee next year.
  • The Bill will reflect the principle that gamblers, gambling operators and the Government should all act responsibly and with integrity.
  • It will, among other things:
- limit the growth of high-risk forms of gambling (e.g. casinos and gaming machines)
- treat problem gambling as a public health matter under the responsibility of the Ministry of Health.
  • The Bill will replace two statutes, the Gaming and Lotteries Act and the Casino Control Act, ensuring that gambling regulation in New Zealand delivers a consistent message.
  • The Racing Act, which regulates horse and greyhound racing, will remain as separate legislation. The betting provisions in the Racing Act will be made consistent with the new Responsible Gambling Bill.
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Gaming machines
  • There will be limits on the number of gaming machines on any site. In general:
- new sites will be restricted to 9 gaming machines
- existing sites will retain the current 18-machine limit.
- new gaming machine sites (retrospective to 18 October 2001 - see Gaming machine transition issues below).
- proposals to add machines to existing sites.

    The Government will consult Local Government New Zealand on the best way to do this.

  • Subject to the community veto, there will be a Ministerial discretion to vary gaming machine numbers upwards. This will apply only for clubs on non-commercial premises (not, for example, pub sites). The Ministerial discretion will allow upward variation of machine numbers to:
- a maximum of 30 at any existing site where two or more genuine clubs want to merge
- a maximum of 18 machines on new club sites.

  • The new legislation will include a power to impose global and/or regional caps on gaming machine numbers by regulation.
  • There will be a series of accountability enhancements to ensure that gaming machines are operated with integrity, including:
- minimum standards for community grants
- a prohibition of site operator involvement in the making of grants
- auditing of grant recipients
- powers for the regulator to specify legitimate site expenses and suitability criteria for sites and operators.
  • Gaming machines will be monitored electronically. This will:
- simplify the management and auditing of gaming machine operations and the tracking of funds
- help to minimise theft and dishonesty.
  • The Government will make decisions early next year on options for implementing electronic monitoring.
  • After an appropriate transition period, pubs and clubs will not be allowed to call themselves “casinos”.
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Gaming machine transition issues

To reduce the incentive for gaming machine societies to invest in gaming machines before the Act comes into force, the new Bill will contain the following provisions:

  • Gaming machine sites established on or after 18 October 2001 under the existing legislation will be subject retrospectively to:
- the 9-machine cap
- the community veto
  • For gaming machine sites existing on 17 October 2001:
- the 9-machine cap will not apply;
- any increase in machine numbers before the date of the Royal Assent will not be subject to the community veto.
- increases up to 18 machines at any time after the date of the Royal Assent will be permitted, unless the community veto is invoked.

These provisions mean that once the new legislation receives Royal Assent, any operators of gaming machine sites licensed on or after 18 October 2001 (whether by new or existing societies):
  • will be required to remove any machines in excess of 9
  • may be required to remove all gaming machines at the site if the community exercises its veto right.
No compensation will be payable by the Crown to any person for loss or damage as a result of these retrospective provisions.

The Coalition government has agreed that, during the Committee stages of the Bill, the Alliance may put amendments to the House that would have the effect of limiting the number of machines to the numbers at 17 October 2001 through mechanisms such as:

  • imposing a retrospective cap on the total number of machines
  • imposing a retrospective community power of veto on expansions of existing sites.
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  • No more casino premises will be licensed.
  • Existing casinos will not be allowed to expand their gambling operations.
  • Community groups will be recognised as parties to casino re-licensing hearings.
  • Decisions on casino re-licensing will be based on an assessment of social impacts as well as economic impacts.

New Zealand Lotteries Commission and Lottery Grants Board

The Lotteries Commission will remain in public ownership.

  • The Lotteries Commission will not be allowed to expand into high-risk types of gambling such as casino games and gaming machines.
  • The Lotteries Commission will continue to pay its profits to the Lottery Grants Board for distribution to community purposes.
  • There will be a revised definition of “community purposes” for Lottery Grants Board distributions, focusing on building strong sustainable communities.
  • The Lottery Grants Board will give regard to the needs of Maori, Pacific people and other ethnic communities, older people, women, youth, and people with disabilities.
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Racing/sports betting
  • The TAB will retain its current monopoly on race and sports betting.
  • Only the TAB will be allowed to operate remote interactive gambling (e.g. via the Internet).
  • The TAB will be allowed to establish agencies in casinos, with the agreement of casino management. However, any such TAB agency will not form part of the casino operation.
  • The profits from TAB betting will continue to be distributed to the racing industry.
  • The TAB will be permitted to operate gaming machines in TABs and racing clubs for the benefit of the racing industry, subject to the same controls as those on other gaming machine operators.

Problem gambling management
  • Problem gambling will be managed as a public health issue. Prevention and treatment programmes will be the responsibility of the Ministry of Health.
  • Casinos, gaming machine operators, the Lotteries Commission and the TAB will pay a levy that will fund the Ministry of Health problem gambling programmes. The amount of the levy will be determined annually.
  • The Government is concerned about the high rate of problem gambling among Maori.
  • Accordingly, Ministry of Health planning will be guided by the New Zealand Health Strategy and the Maori Health Strategy, and will relate to the public health Plan of Action and the Maori Mental Health Strategy.
  • Gambling age limits will be:
- 18 years for the TAB, non-casino gaming machines, and Instant Kiwi
- 20 years for entry to and gambling in casinos.
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The new regulatory regime

  • All gambling will continue to be prohibited unless it is specifically permitted under the Responsible Gambling Act or the Racing Act.
  • There will be different gambling classes depending on the amount of risk posed by the gambling activity.
  • Licensed gambling will be managed through gazetted game rules. There will be standard rules for common forms of gambling.
  • The criteria for licensing gambling will be stricter for activities that are potentially harmful or involve a lot of money. For example:
- Minor gambling such as office sweepstakes and very small-scale community fund-raising will be exempt from licensing.
- Higher-risk gambling will require an operator’s licence.
- Premises where higher-risk gambling takes place will also need to be licensed.
  • Casinos will be treated as a separate class of gambling. However, they will continue to operate under licence conditions and other provisions largely carried over from the Casino Control Act.
  • Given that there will be no further casinos or expansions in the gambling operations of the existing casinos, there will no longer be a need for a permanent Casino Control Authority.
  • The Department of Internal Affairs will carry out most gambling regulatory functions.
  • An independent person, appointed as required by the Minister of Internal Affairs, will undertake activities that arise from time to time and require an independent, semi-judicial function (e.g. hearing applications for the renewal of casino licences).

The Gaming Review
  • The Review was based on comprehensive analysis, research, and consideration of approximately 1,300 public submissions from the consultation process.
  • Consultation with Maori revealed a diverse range of views on the costs and benefits of gambling, and concern about the level of problem gambling in Maori communities.
  • There was also consultation with Pacific Island communities and with other ethnic communities.
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Last updated: 05/04/2005