These are very exciting times for pokies and gambling in general in New Zealand. There is a lot happening, with new laws, damning reports and much more. In this article we will take a look at some of the biggest news to come out concerning pokies in the beginning of the year, before looking ahead to the rest of 2015.
In March, 2015, it was reported that over half of the inspections carried out on the pokies in pubs and clubs have identified issues and breaches of terms. The government were already concerned regarding how difficult this industry is to police, and this will only worry them further and could lead towards a ban or a restriction on pokies.
The breaches reported included fraud, but not all breaches were as serious. However, the result of this report means that the fees that the pubs and clubs pay to install these machines on their premises will now increase. The government stand to make more money from this, and in truth it is unlikely that the pubs and clubs will care, as the money that these machines make is far greater than any fee that the government can impose on them.
One of the biggest pieces of news to be released in the early part of 2015 concerns a new law. This law passed its third and final parliament reading towards the end of February, which means it is now part of the system.
Known as The Gambling Amendment Bill Number 2, this brings in some much welcomed transparency concerning the way that pokies operate in pubs and clubs. The law not only allows for more transparency regarding where these machines are placed and how much they make, but it also clamps down hard on those who abuse the rules. Overall the Gambling Amendment Bill Number 2 is aimed towards creating a cleaner and better run sector, as the pokies industry in clubs and pubs has typically been considered to be rather dismissive of the law.
The goods news about the law mentioned above is that it in no way signals a restriction on pokies, at least not in the near future. These machines are causing a lot of gambling addictions and there are several groups campaigning against them, and that, along with the breaches mentioned above, gives the impression that it is out of the government’s hands. The fact that they are increasing transparency and increasing the fees that pubs and clubs need to pay to install these machines is a signal that they will continue to fight the good fight, and not that they will impose restrictions.
If they run another report in a year or two and discover that many pubs and clubs are still breaking the rules, then they might think twice, but considering how much money these machines make for the government and how much cash they inject into the local community, it seems unlikely.
The simple fact of the matter is that gambling has always had red flags raised against it and it has always remained regardless. In the 1980s it was the same, albeit without the “threat” caused by online gambling. Yet, a few decades later offline gambling is an industry that generates over $2 billion a year, all of which is taxable. Online gambling will always be an issue as that is not taxable, but the people in charge are unlikely to label themselves as hypocrites and money grabbers by outlawing online gambling and not offline gambling.
There are no concerns in the immediate future, but that doesn’t mean that everything will be good after that. What New Zealanders do have to worry about is that there will come a day when online gambling takes over, when casinos located outside of New Zealand take away the revenue from the casinos located inside the country. Problem gambling may also rise and this could create the perfect storm, ripe for a new government to propose a ban on pokies in order to win favour with the voters.
This is all speculation of course, and that might not happen. It is possible to create online gambling inside New Zealand, much like the system that they have in certain regions of Canada, where residents are restricted to using one site, built by one taxable and government controlled system. This was accepted there and it might be accepted here. The issue here is that online gambling is already available, whereas in Canada it was not. If you give something to those who have nothing then they will be happy and will applaud you for it. However, if you limit the options and choices of those who one had it all, and tell them that to gamble online they need to use your site and your company, even when they have had the choice of hundreds in the past, then you create problems. It is up to the people in power to decide how this one plays out. They are the ones who need to find the right balance, the ones who need to please the anti-gamblers and the problem gamblers, whilst ensuring the casinos still bring in money for the communities and that the pubs and clubs can stay open thanks to the revenue brought in by pokies.
It’s not an easy job, but no one ever said that running a country would be.