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Individual sales restrictions planned, but has the Minister actually approved the rules?
On 17 March the Lotteries Commission in New Zealand announced that it would soon begin offering Lotto tickets online, making this popular form of gambling an exception to the general ban on Internet gambling in the country (see previous InfoPowa report).  On Easter Monday the Dominion Post ran a follow-up story under the headline "Online Lotto first of two stage plan, says chairman".
The first stage is actually taking the lotto online, a contentious move to say the least. Problem Gambling Foundation head John Stansfield has strongly opposed the move, labelling it "insane," and pointing out that online instant win games, such as scratchcards, "…posed a similar risk of addiction as other forms of gambling that allowed continuous play, such as pokies." He added that: "New Zealand Lotteries seem to think that growing their business regardless of the damage they cause is their sole purpose."
Back in 2003, last minute changes to New Zealand's Gambling Act, inserted after the select committee submission process had ended, exempted NZ Lotteries from rules that ban organisations from taking bets over the Internet or by phone, leaving the door open for this outfit to go online at some future stage.
The move to permit online lottery activity has now been justified as a response to strong consumer demand, with the politically correct additional comment that lottery officials are "….very aware of our requirements under the Gambling Act to minimise harm". However, subsequent to the March 17 announcement it has transpired that Internal Affairs Minister Rick Barker has not yet approved the necessary changes to Lotto’s game rules.
This week the lottery referred to the second stage of its planning, which seems to be ambitions to add "more adventurous games" that are not detailed but are presumably in the lotto genre within the next two years. This second stage is apparently conditional on no major problems being encountered with the online lottery ticket selling envisaged in the first step.
Around $35 million is gambled every day in New Zealand, according to the Dominion Post report. In 2005, New Zealanders lost $2.027 billion through all forms of gambling. The Ministry of Health reports that current gambling intervention services are reaching only about 15 percent of all those who are estimated to be harmed by gambling.
In debating the move online by the lottery, Barker has insisted that no more than NZ$300 worth of Lotto tickets a month be sold to any one player. NZ Lotteries will accept these limits as the price of going online, although Chairman John Goulter reportedly joked with politicians that the controls were ‘a lot more than would happen’ if he owned Lotto."