New Zealand’s government has recently unveiled reforms regarding the requirements for venues housing electronic gambling machines. These changes will be implemented in three distinct phases over a span of six months, allowing ample time for the sector to conduct staff training and incorporate the necessary adjustments.
Beginning June 15, New Zealand will introduce three new infringement offenses to strengthen existing harm minimization regulations, specifically targeting branding and advertising requirements. Breaching these regulations will result in an offense with an infringement fee of NZ$1,000.
Starting September 1, additional requirements will focus on providing problem gambling awareness training for staff. Mandatory sessions will cover topics such as interacting with gamblers, recognizing signs of harm, and providing information on seeking help.
By December 1, new venue layout requirements will be enforced, ensuring that staff can easily monitor ATMs from the main bar or service area. Additionally, gaming machines must not be visible from outside the venues.
To maintain a safe gambling environment, regular sweeps will be conducted at least three times per hour while gambling areas are operational, with any signs of gambling harm being documented. Venue managers will review these records on a weekly basis. Furthermore, staff responsible for supervising gambling activities will receive annual training to effectively address harmful gambling behaviors.
Internal Affairs Minister Barbara Edmonds expressed the need for these changes, stating that pokies (electronic gambling machines) are among the most detrimental forms of gambling, affecting individuals, their friends, families, and communities. These reforms aim to provide venues with clearer and more enforceable requirements, equipping staff with the necessary tools and knowledge to identify and address harmful gambling practices consistently.
Edmonds expressed gratitude to those who provided feedback during the development process, including the gambling harm treatment sector and the class 4 gambling sector, acknowledging their invaluable contributions to improving the reforms.
In a commitment to address gambling harm-related issues, the government had previously allocated NZ$76 million (US$47.9 million) for a new strategy aimed at preventing and minimizing such concerns.