When the Gambling Act 2003 originally took effect, it presented a number of reforms aimed at reducing the potential harm associated with gambling. Shortly afterwards, lawmakers realised that an amendment bill was required in order to clear up certain provisions and errors. That bill came about in 2007, but it has taken nearly 8 years for New Zealand politicians to agree on the terms.
Now, the Gambling Amendment Bill has finally passed its third reading and will take effect. “We will be supporting this bill as it comes through,” says Denise Roche of The Greens. “However, we do want to say that there is a lot more that we could be doing to sort out some of the rorts in this industry and to keep people safe”. The new bill aims to improve poker machine regulations in order to reduce gambling harm.
For example, the amendments will require all gaming venue owners to be well aware of their responsibilities with regards to responsible gambling measures. They will also be required to keep detailed records of all excluded players. Another major issues that the bill addresses is the definition of the term ‘gaming machine’, which will specify exactly what type of device qualifies as a pokie.
This is particularly important because Sky City will be adding new multi-seat pokies, and there is no clarification regarding how many new gaming machines they will qualify as. New Zealand politicians are interested in all types of methods for harm minimisation.
Mark Mitchell, the National MP for Rodney, brought up the topic of facial recognition and its potential to help curbing problem gambling rates by preventing compulsive players from wagering on pokies. It would also benefit staff by reducing security requirements. “The group that made the submission had just gone through a trial where it had used facial recognition as a way of monitoring and managing problem gamblers,” he said.
“The trial had been very successful, and to me it seems like a pretty good solution, actually”.