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Online Gambling in New Zealand

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online gambling new zealand

The Department of Internal Affairs’ discussion document on online gambling in New Zealand has come under fire from all angles.

First, public health advocates slammed the paper for focusing on opening up the online market to New Zealand companies instead of achieving harm minimisation.

Now, digital rights advocates have taken aim at the Government for threatening to block access to overseas gambling sites.

The proposal is one of a handful in the document that examine cutting back on it, but InternetNZ’s chief executive Jordan Carter says this is the wrong approach.

Internet service providers (ISPs) like Vodafone and Spark have also expressed opposition to the proposal.

The notion of banning access to overseas gambling operators is not fleshed out in detail in the DIA discussion document.

New Zealanders (and those residing in or visiting New Zealand) could be prohibited from visiting online gambling sites based overseas or domestically apart from those authorised by law and licensed to operate in the New Zealand market.

“A compliance strategy and prosecution guidelines would need to be developed by the Department of Internal Affairs,” it states.

The document also raises the idea of “geo-blocking”, but uses the term incorrectly.

Geo-blocking is when sites such as Netflix block access to American content from New Zealand. It is unlikely that gambling sites would voluntarily block Kiwis from accessing their products.

DIA briefly engages with the concept that such a ban would amount to censorship, then dismisses it.

The government geo-blocking or prohibiting access to gambling websites may raise issues of censorship, especially if used too broadly. However, only applying restrictions to unauthorised or noncompliant operators would be unlikely to raise these issues, provided the public had sufficient choice of gambling product.

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