The Government of New Zealand has announced new laws to reduce harm related to gambling activities. The government plans to review the Gambling Act of 2003 and enforce the new law by May 2023. The new laws require land-based casinos and gambling venues offering pokie machines to maintain higher standards. Also, they set harsh penalties for operators failing to comply.
Once the government enforces the changes, casino employees must undergo annual mandatory training sessions to help them identify and assist problem gamblers. Gambling venues will have to record signs of gambling-related harm. They will also have to change their designs to make it difficult for players to access gambling machines and to develop better systems to monitor the ATMs on their premises.
Jan Tinetti, the internal affairs minister, expressed hopes that the new laws would prove to the world that New Zealand is implementing measures to protect its residents from gambling harm.
She said that, by shining a light on gambling-related harm, the government wants to show what is unacceptable for the residents of New Zealand. According to her, most Kiwis are unwilling to accept the existence of gambling-related harm.
Pesio Ah-Honi, the director of Mapu Maia, a support service for problem gamblers from the Pasifika community, said that gambling creates many problems for her clients. Listing some of those problems, she said that problem gambling and addiction to gambling destroy relationships, reduce wealth, cause mental health issues, domestic violence, and crimes, and drive the sufferers to suicide.
Ah-Honi welcomes the new rules for employees of land-based casinos and says that training casino staff to identify problem gamblers will go a long way in solving the problem. She says that casino employees know their customers well, especially when they repeatedly visit the same venue and play the same games. Since casino employees have a bond with loyal customers, they can help them better if they become problem gamblers.
Andree Froude, a spokesperson for Problem Gambling Foundation, calls the new laws a promising first step and expects better laws after the government reviews the Gambling Act of 2003.
Referring to the new regulations as a step in the right direction, she expressed keenness to know what the government will do after reviewing the Gambling Act. According to Froude, the gambling laws of New Zealand need to keep up with all the technological developments within the gambling industry, including online gambling and mobile casinos.
Agreeing with Froude, Ah-Honi says that the Gambling Act is outdated as it was enforced in 2003. Since New Zealand now has online gambling, it must change its laws as they can no longer protect players.
She says the new laws will become successful only if the government enforces them properly. Ah-Honi is happy about the new infringement offenses the law includes because NZ law-enforcement agencies can now penalize casinos that fail to comply with the law.
Stressing the need for proper enforcement, she said that the new measures will be worthless if the government fails to enforce them strictly.
She also says that the Government of New Zealand needs to do more, adding that her organization will continue to demand more changes and expressing hopes that, one day, effective laws would lead to zero pokie gaming within the community.
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