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New Zealand Contests May Break Gambling Laws

18 October 2004

NEW ZEALAND – As reported by the New Zealand Stuff: "Internal Affairs is investigating two text messaging competitions which it believes may be illegal following changes to gambling laws earlier this year.

"Manager of gaming and operational policy Kate Reid says the department has not yet decided whether the competitions fall foul of the Gambling Act, but says it is close to deciding whether to mount a prosecution with respect to one of the competitions.

"Text messaging competitions have been a nice earner for telcos and broadcasters and an important source of income for some hi-tech start-ups in the nascent wireless applications market.

"…The warning came as Telecom began accepting text messaging competitions on its mobile network following a temporary hiatus while the telco ensured it was operating in compliance with the Gambling Act, which came into effect in July.

"…The Gambling Act banned almost all forms of gambling using cellphones in a bid to protect children and teenagers from potentially having 24-hour access to instant gambling. The rules are also designed to stop promoters and telcos profiteering from competitions and loading costs on to consumers.

"Organisers of any text-based competition must be able to prove they are running a genuine sales promotion, which must not cost the consumer any more than the standard communication fee to enter - typically 20 cents for an SMS message…"

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