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Concern Over Increase In People Seeking Help From Gambling On Overseas-based Sites

Joint Press Release: The Salvation Army Social and Policy Unit and the Problem Gambling Foundation

Recent Ministry of Health data shows one in ten people sought help from treatment providers due to gambling online on sites based offshore between July 2022 and June 2023 and the numbers have been steadily increasing.

The Salvation Army’s Social and Policy Unit and the Problem Gambling Foundation are concerned that the Government’s plan to tax offshore online casino operators will be at the expense of harm minimisation.

Andree Froude Director of Advocacy and Public Health at the Problem Gambling Foundation says New Zealand is a largely unregulated market and is being targeted by offshore gambling operators.

“We have seen overseas-based operators aggressively marketing to New Zealanders so it is no surprise that we are starting to see the numbers of people seeking help increase.”

“People using overseas gambling websites are much more likely to be at risk of experiencing harm, so harm minimisation should be at the forefront of any regulatory approach to online gambling, not tax collection,” she says.

Lynette Hutson, from The Salvation Army Te Ope Whakaora says controlling the growth of gambling and harm minimisation are legislated priorities in the Gambling Act 2003. The fact that other countries such as Australia and Canada do not allow offshore websites to provide casino gambling shows that we have important choices to make as a country.

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“We hope the Cabinet “in-principle” decision to regulate online casino gambling will be supported by public consultation and engagement with experts to ensure there are robust consumer protection measures to prevent and minimise the harm caused by online gambling,” she says.

Online casino gambling is a particularly risky form of gambling as it is so accessible, has a continuous nature of play and appeals to young people.

While it is legal for New Zealanders to gamble on overseas online sites, offshore operators are not subject to New Zealand’s gambling regulations, which can lead to an increase in gambling harm.

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