New Zealand Debates Risk And Rewards Of Expanding Gambling
Problem gambling is a topic in the headlines a lot recently due largely to the emerging global markets opening up. Whether it be gambling addiction down under or anywhere else in the global village the common thread is how the governments intend on handling this contentious issue.
New Zealand is currently an excellent case to look at as it is facing the same dilemma that many other countries are facing when deciding to expand gambling online or in land casinos. There is currently a heated debate underway in response to what is called the International Convention Centre Bill. In a nutshell the bill see the casino owner SkyCity build a $400 million convention centre in return for them being allowed to add an additional 230 pokie machines as well as getting their licence extended till 2048.This at first glance looks like an ideal situation with jobs being created and no new casinos built.
However critics like the Green Party are insisting that special mandatory measures be enforced which would limit problematic gamblers from spending cash they do not have. Co-leader Metiria Turei believes that these measures should be a pre-requisite before the SkyCity deal is allowed to move forward. One of the measures talked about are the introduction of the “pre-commitment cards”. In essence the way it works is that players before playing their pokies will have a credit card like card which contains the player’s information as well as a pre-determined playing limit. Should the player exceed the limit, they will no longer be able to play. The problem lies in the fact that that these programs are dependent on the goodwill of the problem gambler who are less likely to impose limits on themselves. Other concerns raised are the public’s general disliking of big brother telling them what to do.
Turei like many gambling opponents is skeptical of the intentions of the casinos who always are quick to point out the advantages of job employment and forget about the real social problems a casino could create. She made this clear in a statement,” The Green Party intends to implement sensible and pragmatic measures that reassert the role of public health as the primary driver of gambling regulation, rather than economic development and convention centres.”
New Zealand Prime Minister John Key responded to the Green Party’s proposal by stating what many pragmatic policy makers have pointed out since the inception of online and mobile gambling,” There are no restrictions on that. I can’t even fathom to work out how you would restrict online gambling, & so it’s a bit farcical to say that you could only go to the casino & spend this amount of money but, by the way, in your home you could bet away your entire net worth.”
Whichever way the politicians in New Zealand decide to go, the debate raging there is a microcosmic example of the global gambling dilemma. The age old question of “risk and reward” will continue to occupy the headlines when it comes to the billions that are at stake in the age old pastime of gambling. The cash strapped governments are unable to turn down the millions that casinos can offer in tax revenues but have to be wary not to be blinded to the potential social problems gambling addiction causes.