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Kevin Smith

New Zealand Considers I-Gaming

28 February 2001

The initial steps have been made to legalize online gaming in New Zealand.

That proposal is just one of several suggestions for the gambling industry included in a discussion paper released this week by the government of New Zealand.

Gaming operators and other interested parties in New Zealand have two months to comment and make suggestions about the document. "Gaming Reform in New Zealand: Towards a New Legislative Framework" was released by the Department of Internal Affairs on Wednesday.

The Minster of Internal Affairs, Hon. George Hawkins, hopes that by releasing the document the public will feel inclined to give its input.

"I want the public to think about the issues covered in this discussion paper very carefully," he said. "I want them to contribute to the debate."

Although the department is hoping to stir debate, Hawkins said it is very important for the agency to not take sides. "The discussion paper is not meant to influence people’s opinions in any way," he said. "It is strictly neutral."

In addition to the four main topics, the discussion paper also touches on the risks for users and asks questions about the management of unfair games, problem gambling, and gaming related offenses. The issue of regulating gaming operators, game standards and player access is also brought up in the paper.

The economics of the business are also part of the document, with a section on gaming profits and how they are distributed to communities along with gaming costs and taxation issues being included in the debate.

Hawkins said the paper has been long overdue considering the changing face of the industry in New Zealand.

"Over the past few years there has been increasing concern over the state of gaming in New Zealand and the law regulating it," he said. "It is clear that the current gaming laws have grown in an ad hoc manner and they are no longer keeping up with the developments in the sector."

The public has until April 30, 2001 to comment on the issues brought up in the paper. The document brings up three main areas that the department believes Parliament should consider. Those issues include: what role should gaming play in our society, what effect Internet gambling has on New Zealand, and what effect technological change has on gaming, and whether it is possible to regulate cross-border gaming.

The discussion paper is the start of a long process that hopes to conclude in March of 2002 by enacting new legislation.

"The discussion paper is aimed at canvassing all the main issues and raises the questions to prompt people’s thinking," Hawkins said. "The Government aims to make decisions on gaming reform by the middle of this year so that we can enact new legislation early in 2002."

Following the close of public commentary in April, the government intends to make decisions on gaming by July and introduce a bill to the Parliament by the end of the year. Before Parliament votes on the bill, public commentary will once again be sought.

Click here to read the New Zealand discussion paper.

New Zealand Considers I-Gaming is republished from
Kevin Smith
Kevin Smith