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NZ Lotteries taking insane risk with public safety

March 17, 2008

NZ Lotteries are taking an insane risk with public safety

Introducing online lotto tickets without knowing the consequences is dangerously irresponsible says the Problem Gambling Foundation.

News that NZ Lotteries is likely to move into the internet gambling business within a month has shocked the Foundation which says that it is repeating the mistakes of the 1980s when pokies and casinos were introduced with little thought about the harm they might cause.

Foundation CEO John Stansfield says that Department of Internal Affairs Minister Rick Barker must be totally out of touch with reality if he thinks it is ok to add a new way of gambling without considering the gambling harm it might cause.

"Is the man oblivious to the harm being done at present?" he says.

"Surely the high level of community dissatisfaction with the present situation has penetrated government consciousness at some level.

"We believe no new ways of gambling should be introduced unless it can be proven they are less harmful than existing ways.

"If this can be proven then a more harmful way should be taken off the market and the safer way substituted for it.

"This would lead to a reduction in the supply of dangerous gambling products and lower gambling harm which is what the Gambling Act is supposed to achieve."

Mr Stansfield says the Gambling Act promises community participation in decisions about the provision of gambling and asks how seriously this is being treated if NZ Lotteries are simply able to introduce online gambling without any consultation.

"Mr Barker should be talking with organisations that know something about gambling harm before he approves any increases in gambling supply or new products.

"There is a review of the Act taking place at the moment. He could have used this as an opportunity to consult on the issue.

Mr Stansfield says the section of the Gambling Act that excludes Lotteries and the TAB from an online gambling ban was snuck into the Act after the select committee had finished sitting so there was no opportunity for public input.

Mr Stansfield is also critical of NZ Lotteries for failing to understand it has social as well as commercial responsibilities.

"The reason they have a monopoly is so the public can be assured lotteries are provided in a safe, regulated and responsible manner, he says.

"NZ Lotteries seem to think that growing their business regardless of the damage they cause is their sole purpose.

"The Minister should be reminding them what they are there for, and instructing them to do some homework before they make decisions that could do a lot of damage to the people they are supposed to be serving."

Mr Stansfield says the Foundation is looking at all options to stop the Minister and NZ Lotteries inflicting more gambling harm on communities that are already struggling to deal with the results of previous mindless decisions.


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