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Online gambling initiative will increase gambling

28 March 2008

Online gambling initiative will increase gambling harm

"It is reprehensible that the Government is launching a whole new online gaming initiative through the internet sale of lotto tickets," Green Party Spokesperson on Gambling Sue Bradford said this afternoon.

"At a time when we already have enough issues with problem gambling in communities throughout New Zealand, the Minister responsible, Rick Barker, has seen fit to create new opportunities for high risk gambling harm, in total contradiction to the supposed purposes of the 2003 Gambling Act.

"While he is legally able to do this, I think it is disgraceful that Labour would endorse this latest venture.

"Online gaming is aimed directly at a group of people who are very vulnerable to potential gambling harm - those who are often quite lonely and spend a lot of time on their computers without a lot of
other social interactions.

"While of course many people who will use the new gambling opportunity don't fit this category, and won't find themselves in difficulties, there will be some who will, despite the controls being placed in the new system.

"$150 a week is too much for many people to afford to lose on gambling. On top of that, many people have access to more than one credit card, and I can't see anything that will stop children and young people using their parents' credit cards to gamble online.

"Additionally, the Government has not, as far as I am aware, engaged in any form of community consultation - not even with their own Expert Advisory Group on Gambling.

"The Minister seems to think that putting some safety features around online gambling is enough to justify what is simply a push by the Lotteries Commission to maximise profits at the expense of ordinary people who are at risk from the temptations of online gaming.

"Buying lotto tickets from your local lotto outlet is a comparatively low risk form of gambling in this country compared to the devastation being wreaked by pokies. However online lotto will put a lot more people at risk.

"I call on the Government to urgently reconsider its support for Mr Barker's latest initiative.

"Labour is supposed to be a party which cares about social responsibility - this development is totally irresponsible."

ENDS

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