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Gambling ActóRestriction on Internet Gambling Sites

11. SUE BRADFORD (Green) to the Minister of Internal Affairs: Will he be seeking to strengthen legislation to further restrict internet gambling websites such as RaceO as part of his review of the Gambling Act?

Hon LIANNE DALZIEL (Minister of Commerce) on behalf of the Minister of Internal Affairs: The intention of the review of the Gambling Act is to identify and address any anomalies or deficiencies in the Act. The issue of websites such as RaceO will be included in this work.

Sue Bradford: When the Minister advised the House on 27 February of this year that the Department of Internal Affairs would finish its investigation into RaceO in 4 weeks, did he envisage that I would still be able to place a bet on RaceO today, 16 May, and why exactly has nothing happened?

Hon LIANNE DALZIEL: My advice is that the work began on the day the website was identified in order to investigate its legal status in New Zealand. As the member will know, the legislation actually refers to the question of operating remote interactive gambling in New Zealand and also prohibits anyone in New Zealand from advertising or promoting overseas-based gambling. The issue here, and the reason why the investigation has taken longer than the anticipated month, is that some of the key principals reside outside New Zealand.

Sue Bradford: Is the Minister then suggesting that the Government is powerless to stop internationally based gambling websites like RaceO from taking the proceeds of gambling offshore and exposing vulnerable New Zealanders to all the problems associated with gambling at the same time that we are losing control of resources that might help mitigate some of the worst consequences of gambling?

Hon LIANNE DALZIEL: No, what the Government is saying is that there is still an investigation going on, so we do not know the answer to that question. Obviously, the intention of the review of the Gambling Act is to address any anomalies or deficiencies that arise during this investigation, as well as in the wider review.

Sue Bradford: Will there be legislation this year that will address some of the key flaws of the current Gambling Act, and will the legislation include such things as taking the distribution of pokie money out of private hands and putting it into publicly accountable mechanisms, and, for example, subjecting casinos to the Proceeds of Crime Act in situations where fraudulently obtained money is gambled away?
Hon LIANNE DALZIEL: I am advised that the Minister does expect a bill to be ready for introduction later in the year. I think that we have to await the result of the review before we speculate on what it will contain.