In this article we will take a look at the gambling and pokie news to come out of New Zealand in 2014. This was a busy year to say the least, and one with many highs and lows for this pokie and gambling loving nation.
In February New Zealand hosted the 5th Annual International Gambling Conference, a recognition perhaps that this small country is one of the biggest gambling countries in the world. The conference was held from February 19th to 21st in Auckland, at the University of Technology. The theme of the conference was mobile gambling, which is becoming one of the most popular ways to gamble across the world. The developments were discussed at length during the conference, as were the regulations.
The Minister of Health remarked, in his opening address, that mobile gambling was great for the public, but that it had to be monitored as it could potentially cause problems for youngsters, who activity can not be monitored. He stressed the widely voiced concerns that the ease of mobile gambling is sure to lead to more problems, whilst also mentioning that it was still great news for those who gamble responsibly, and for those who profit from the success of these casinos.
Much of the conference was positive, despite what this address might suggest, and there was no suggestion that any form of gambling in New Zealand will be restricted anytime soon.
Problems with Problem Gambling
Gambling addiction was very much the topic of issue during 2014, as many figures suggested that it was on the increase. Despite this, the government of New Zealand cut their funding to the problem gambling campaign, who seems to go against everything that they have been saying for the past couple of years. The organisations that deal with problem gambling in the country discovered in March, 2014, that their funding was to be cut short, which rightly disappointed and frustrated them. It seems that many of them thought they were not getting enough money and had been campaigning for more, so the fact that they ended up with even less came as a huge shock.
These cuts are not small either. The Problem Gambling Foundation, for instance, used to get over $4,5 million pumped into their accounts every year, but in March they learned that their annual budget would be just over $1 million, a significant drop that will damage them and their efforts. This money will still be used to help problem gamblers across New Zealand, with the PGF operating out of 12 offices, but they will have to spread their funds very thinly and will no doubt turn to public funding to try and make up for lost funds.
More Debt, More Problems
Staying with problem gambling, towards the end of 2014 a gambling addict from West Auckland stole close to $70,000 to fund his gambling habit. This caused quite a stir, as you can imagine, and only served to further demonise gambling and those that abuse it. Unfortunately, cases like this have a knock-on effect for gambling on the whole and will be used by anti-gambling campaigners in their desire to liken gambling addiction to drug addiction, and therefore call for its restriction.
This was a very rare case and a terrible one at that. The gambler in question was Clayton James Walter MacDonald, who acted as a carer for a vulnerable old neighbour, but was actually only interested in his credit cards. MacDonald, a father of four, drained the old man dry and even made himself executor of his will. Luckily, the cheated neighbour discovered what was happening and now MacDonald is where he should be, in jail. Incarceration might be just what the 32 year old needs, where high-stakes gambling, and the money to do it, isn’t as easy to come by.
Cheaters Never Prosper
Macdonald wasn’t the only one to find himself on the wrong side of the law thanks to his gambling itch. The New Zealand horse racing world was put under scrutiny towards the latter half of 2014 when David Walker, a fairly respected jockey, was caught cheating. In the spirit of fairness, jockeys are obviously not allowed to lose on purpose or even to hold back, but Mr Walker wasn’t concerned with the rules and regulations of the sport that had paid the bills for several years. It was discovered that he had bet on a race in which he was riding, and while you might say he was just confident of his ability, you might not have the same attitude if you knew he wasn’t betting on himself. Walker basically lumped a large sum on another horse, knowing only that horse and the one he was riding stood a chance of winning. He then held back, losing the race on purpose and pocketing a nice sum.
The 38 year old jockey is no newbie, so we have no idea if he has done this before, but there is little chance that he will ever do it again as he was banned from racing for 7 years. He was also forced for pay a small sum. Walker admitted to placing the bet, but he denied losing on purpose. If that is the case then it seems very convenient that he happened to not be at his best on that day, otherwise he could have lost a lot of money. As it happens he only lost his career.
To take some positives out of this, the horse racing public discovered that it is legal for jockeys to bet on the horses they are riding, which came as a surprise to some. It is not, of course, legal for them to bet on other horses if they are involved in the same race, which makes sense. Maybe someone should have told David Walker though.