RNZ National released an article on Wednesday discussing potential online casino regulation and changes to online gambling laws in New Zealand. The changes would potentially block online casino gambling at offshore online casino sites.
However, some critics believe that the laws will lead to more online gambling options for New Zealanders, and they view this as a bad thing. Like many opponents of gambling, critics point to “potential harm” for citizens as a reason to block such changes.
The problem with this line of thinking is that it can actually do more long-term harm to New Zealanders than good. There are multiple reasons why modifying current gambling laws are a good thing for New Zealanders rather than a bad thing.
New Zealanders Spent $381 Million at Offshore Casinos in Last 18 Months
According to the report, New Zealanders have spent $381 million at offshore online casinos over the last 18 months. Think about that number for a minute. That is $381 million that is going to casinos in other countries and providing zero benefits for New Zealand or its citizens.
Countries that regulate online gambling also tax gross gaming receipts by online casinos. The tax rate varies from country to country, but if you tax online gambling at a very modest rate of around 15 percent, that is over $57 million that has been lost in potential tax revenues over the last 18 months.
And that is money that is gambled by those that are choosing to play at offshore sites. Some citizens know the laws regarding online gambling in New Zealand and either believes that they cannot play or simply do not know where to play because their local casinos are barred from offering games.
Think about the money that the government could raise per year if they legalized online casino gambling. It would help to fund education, infrastructure, and provide aid to the needy. None of these things are being benefited under current online gambling laws.
What Are the Options For Online Casino Regulation?
According to the report, the Government is considering three new options for online gambling reform in New Zealand. The first is to regulate online gambling and have offshore sites apply for licenses in New Zealand. This would bring in licensing fees and tax revenue on the funds collected by those casinos.
The next option is to encourage Lotto and TAB to create online casino games that will draw in online gambling locally rather than take their business offshore. TAB and Lotto are the only regulated online gambling operators in New Zealand presently.
The final option, and the one New Zealand and Australian casinos prefer, would be to allow casinos in New Zealand to become licensed to offer online casino gambling. This would allow citizens a safe and regulated option, unlike what’s currently available.
Problem Gambling Can Be Addressed Better Under Regulation
Opponents of online gambling always talk about protecting citizens from online gambling and claim that regulation will lead to more problem gambling. While this may seem logical to some, many forget that citizens gambling at offshore sites is at a greater risk for online gambling addiction than those in a regulated market.
As some government agents have pointed out, it is nearly impossible to block all offshore gambling sites, so citizens with gambling problems will still find a way to feed their addiction. Under a regulated market, there’s help available for problem gambling from both government agencies and from the casinos themselves.
Casinos take steps to watch out for and prevent problem gambling, including allowing citizens to enact self-exclusion from the sites. Offshore sites don’t bother to watch after the welfare of problem gamblers, leaving them alone to battle their addiction.
Ultimately, the best course of action for online gambling is regulation. It will bring additional tax revenue to New Zealand and help to control problem gambling. Rather than take a reactionary stance based on talking heads, we encourage you to examine the issues and learn all the facts regarding online casino regulation in Australia.