The Department of Internal Affairs (DIA), New Zealand’s gambling regulator, is considering banning the use of credit cards for online gambling, as the Government looks into whether our gambling laws are still fit for purpose. This comes as the Gambling Commission in the United Kingdom go out for consultation on this very issue, and banks in Australia are increasingly placing restrictions on credit card use for gambling.
The only gambling operators that are legally allowed to operate online in New Zealand are the NZ Racing Board (TAB) and Lotto.
With SkyCity soon to enter the online casino market after basing its operations in Malta, it’s timely to consider measures such as banning the use of credit cards for online gambling. But it needs to be alongside effective host responsibility measures that offer strong consumer protection. A SkyCity spokesperson was quoted in the NZ Herald saying “there will be a range of both operator exclusions and personal exclusions," and that “details of the exclusions would not be made public until the site launched but would include checks to ensure a person did not spend more than a certain percentage of their income.”
Spokespeople for the New Zealand Racing Board that operates the TAB, and Lotto NZ, also told the NZ Herald of their host responsibility measures to protect consumers.
But the devil will be in the detail and while there is no magic bullet, restricting or banning the use of credit cards for online gambling, is a good prevention tool – it might not stop harmful gambling, but it will help.
Online gambling continues to grow exponentially, and that growth will certainly mean more harm.
The operators of these gambling products need to take responsibility for keeping consumers of their products safe, particularly the vulnerable. The advertising of gambling products also needs to be restricted so people aren’t constantly bombarded with gambling advertising, including young people.
Then there’s “marketing masked as news” such as TAB bookie Mark Stafford spruiking the odds before a game or race in the media.
But that’s another story… and I fear that horse may have already bolted.
Andree Froude is the Director of Marketing and Communications at the PGF Group.
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