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New Zealand close to an online gambling credit card ban

Mon, Nov 4, 3:45pm by Ethan Anderson

New Zealand’s Department of Internal Affairs (DIA) has been considering a ban on credit cards for online gambling payments since August of this year.

Casinoaus.com reports that since then, the department has held a public consultation on the subject and SkyCity’s Auckland casino has launched its online casino product. Various reports indicate this has led to the DIA to decide to implement the credit card ban soon.

The matter all started with the battle between SkyCity and the New Zealand government.

SkyCity Entertainment Group wanted an online casino component to complement its Auckland land-based casino property, feeling that it should be able to operate an online casino for two reasons.

Firstly, customer demand where studies showed New Zealanders spent as much as $160 million per year on casino sites, which all were based offshore since they were not welcomed to be licensed by the NZ government.

Secondly, New Zealand law permitted Lotto and TAB to provide online betting options. The government-run sites work as a monopoly of sorts, though, where SkyCity wanted to be able to compete for online gambling business.

As per law, online gambling companies were not allowed to operate from a New Zealand base. Therefore, SkyCity, then planned to let its Maltese subsidiary do it from Malta.

As a result, the company partnered with Gaming Innovation Group (GiG) to develop and launch SkyCityCasino.com later in 2019.

SkyCity’s move and use of a loophole was a bit unexpected.

The DIA knew that changing the current laws to prohibit SkyCity’s online casino could take years. DIA Minister Tracey Martin said the government was “disappointed” that the company was moving ahead with its plans.

With the launch seemingly unable to be stopped by the DIA, they have adopted another approach to try limiting gambling made to the new online casino, with a move to implement a ban on using credit cards for online gambling.

Public consultation opened

The DIA opened a public consultation in the form of a public discussion document: Online Gambling in New Zealand.

“The Government is interested in knowing what is important to you when it comes to regulating online gambling in New Zealand,” it began. “We would also like to know more about how online gambling is affecting the lives of New Zealanders.”

The document mentioned that the Gambling Act of 2003 did not foresee the modernisation of gambling and the level the internet would play a part in all parts of life today.

The public was asked to submit their opinion forms online, via email or regular mail to the DIA before September 30.

From the information collected, the DIA came up with four options on which to vote to achieve updated laws.

  • Lotto and TAB offer existing gambling products including lotteries, racing and sports betting (no change to current law)
  • Lotto and TAB be able to offer more online gambling products like casino games
  • Domestic operators (any NZ commercial or charitable operations) could be licensed to offer casino-style online gambling products
  • Any domestic or overseas operators could be licensed to offer gambling products online

While the results of the consultation have not yet been released, it does appear the DIA have already decided on one course of action.

According to the New Zealand Herald, the DIA plans to implement the credit card ban. The timeline for an announcement and consultation with financial institutions are not yet known.

In Australia, some banks are making the move to ban credit card use for gambling by themselves.

Macquarie became the first major bank in Australia to block gambling charges on all credit cards issued by its facilities, with its policy being implemented from July 1 this year. For financial institutions to implement such changes, the process can be done via changing policy and alerting customers, rather than going through the government.

Full details on the DIA’s proposal and evaluation by the New Zealand government are expected to become public knowledge by the end of 2019.


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