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Gaming Review Announced

The Government is to conduct a comprehensive review of gaming, the Minister of Internal Affairs Mark Burton announced today.

Additional provision has been made in the budget for the Department of Internal Affairs to conduct a Gaming Review. It is intended that the review will facilitate parliamentary decisions on gaming policy and subsequent implementation of that policy through legislative change.

"The whole management of gambling and gaming in New Zealand has become increasingly confused and complex," Mark Burton said.

"The Gaming Law Reform Bill, which was introduced under the previous government and is still before the select committee, deals with some matters affecting the regulation of casinos and gaming machines.

"However, it is also necessary to address wider questions of what the legal framework relating to gaming and gambling should be as we begin the new millennium.

"This Government will not shy away from difficult issues or decisions," Mark Burton said. "If we are going to have any coherence in this area we need to go back to fundamental principles, and not rely on ad hoc decisions that can and often do cause more problems than they solve.

"I am not alone in this call. I have heard pleas over and over again from individuals and organisations as diverse as problem gambling bodies, club owners, casino interests and my own officials who have to administer the legislation and regulations."

The Minister said there are a number of specific concerns.

"We have legislation that no longer makes sense. For example, nothing is in place to help us manage cross-border electronic/Internet gambling. Casinos are run for commercial profit while other forms of gaming are not, and controls are perceived by many to be most stringent on community organisations. Problem gambling is a significant social issue that needs to be addressed, but legislation to enable education about gambling and to assist problem gamblers is almost non-existent.

"The Gaming Review will seek to involve the many groups and individuals with strong views on gaming issues, so they can contribute their views and experience to the process.

"For my part, I will not be pushing any particular barrow. I know I can confidently leave the advocacy of various positions to others. My responsibility is to ensure that the process is sound and that the results are credible and coherent," Mark Burton said.

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