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Minister signals issues at gambling seminar

Minister signals consumer issues at Gambling Impact Seminar

Minister of Consumer Affairs, Hon Phillida Bunkle, is keen to develop a Consumer Information Standard compelling pokie machine operators to give gamblers more information about the risks of gambling.

The Minister told the inaugural Gambling Impact Seminar in Taupo today that she is investigating the merits of establishing an Information Standard, under terms of the Fair Trading Act.

"The idea behind this is to compel gaming machine operators to provide consumers with more information before commencing games. This ensures the consumer knows enough about the risks to make an informed choice about gambling," the Minister said.

There were serious consumer issues to be considered when looking at gambling in New Zealand, she said.

"The things consumers need for an informed choice are meaningful price information, statements of expenditure, modifying game features, consumer warnings, advertising and promotion of the risks, and a complaints process."

Establishing an Information Standard would require lengthy consultation but could be formed within nine months, she said.

Ms Bunkle said she hoped consumer issues would be integrated with any recommendations from the select committee which is currently considering the Gaming Law Reform Bill.

Ms Bunkle added she would support any initiatives by Internal Affairs Minister Mark Burton, that would look towards a more secure environment for gaming machines in New Zealand.

"Gamblers should know the risks and consequences of excessive gambling. They should be educated about the symptoms of an emerging problem and where to seek assistance.

"Consumer warnings in gambling advertising, I believe, should be mandatory. After all, Parliament has already legislated such warnings on tobacco consumption," the Minister said.

END

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