Pokie Problem Gambling Solved

Is the pokie problem gambling in New Zealand solved?

Well, pokie problem gambling in New Zealand can be solved by taking measures to curb the addiction to pokies. Though right now at the time of the Pandemic of Coronavirus land venues have few gamblers, but on the other side, there is a sharp increase of gamblers at online casinos. Not to worry online casinos allow the players or punters to fix a limit to spend at the pokies.

A coalition of The Salvation Army, Problem Gambling Foundation, and Māori health agency Hapai te Hauora has written a ‘white paper’ for Internal Affairs Minister Tracey Martin arguing that the Government could easily replace the annual $242m of pokie grants from its own coffers.

The agencies argue that the Covid-19 shutdown of pubs (and therefore pokies) has presented a “golden opportunity” for complete reform of the system. The sector has warned of a huge drop in grants this year because of the shutdown.

Martin says there is $2.5m in the Budget for a review of the “wider gambling framework”, but that will initially tackle the unregulated online gambling market. She’s unlikely to heed radical calls for a complete shutdown – but could overhaul the system itself.

The Camera was the Option in 2012 to Check Problem Gambling

Pokie problem solved
CAUGHT ON CAMERA: Paul Andrew said if the system is good enough for Customs … then it is good enough for gaming. Image Source: Stuff NZ

This is the question many are asking after a new gadget hit the tech field in 2012. It’s a gadget many who work as border guards in the airports will know of, but somehow it seems they are making their way to a pokie place near you!

So what is the gadget we are talking about? Well, it’s a camera, as simple as that. This camera is one that holds facial recognition software and is used by border agencies to monitor people coming into the country to pick up wanted felons.

For problem gambling, the camera can be used to check against a database of known problem gamblers and not allow them to play as the pokie will shut down for this player. This innovative idea will solve two problems, the first being problem gambling and the second being the horrendous cost of monitoring problem gambling as there is no human intervention in this system.

Camera is good for customers as well as gaming industry

Paul Andrew, who works for designers Gaming Inc and who was part of the initiative said “We thought, ‘If it is good enough for Customers, then it is surely good enough for the gaming industry,’ “

Even the government and problem gambling trusts have seen this as a unique and interesting concept that will support ridding the country of problem gambling.

Martin Cheer, of one charity, said:

“It’s the future – the best solution I’ve seen. This is the only system which doesn’t rely on a human element and can ensure people are excluded from every gaming room in the country.”

“I think it does solve a lot of the problems facing the industry,”

With pokies seen as evil by some because of the small minority of problem gamblers, this could be the initiative to solve many ills.

Measures to Limit Problem Gambling

Problem gambling in New Zealand
Measures to limit problem gambling

A key intention of the Gambling Act 2003 is controlling the growth of gambling, and preventing and minimizing the harm caused by gambling.

To support this, the Gambling (Harm Prevention and Minimisation) Regulations, last amended in March 2015, contain a range of measures including:

  • Restrictions on venues suitable for operating gaming machines
  • No automated teller machines (ATMs) allowed in the gambling area of a venue
  • Maximum stake and prize limits for gaming machines
  • A feature on each gaming machine which interrupts play at intervals of not more than 30 minutes of continuous play (the messages display information about the duration of play, amount of money spent and net wins or losses)
  • Restrictions on jackpot branding and advertising
  • Requirement to give venue staff problem gambling awareness training
  • Requirement to make information about problem gambling available to patrons
  • Ability for venue staff to issue exclusion orders to patrons

Gamblers can also request a Multi Venue Exclusion if they want to be excluded from more than one gambling venue.

Problem Gambling Awareness Training

How to stay safe from online Problem Gambling?
How to stay safe from online Problem Gambling?

The Gambling (Harm Prevention and Minimisation) Regulations 2004 require that Class 4 license holders provide problem gambling awareness training to the venue manager and any other staff, so as to ensure there is always a trained person at the venue whenever the pokies are available.

It is a leading practice that training is available to all staff members who have regular contact with gamblers.

A person who is trained should be able to identify signs of problem gambling and know how to approach a gambler who is experiencing harm.

The Gamble Host Pack has useful resources to help operators and staff in their problem gambling awareness training. The pack includes a clear checklist of the most common signs of problem gambling and tips on how staff can interact with gamblers they’re concerned about.

The Department can also help operators by providing information about problem gambling awareness training for staff and the legal harm prevention and minimization requirements. If you’d like more information please contact the Gambling Group. Also, all pubs and clubs with gaming machines and casinos must have problem gambling pamphlets and signs in their venues.

What are the Support Services for Problem Gamblers?

What are the support services for problem gamblers
What are the support services for problem gamblers?

Self Exclusion Orders: If you think you, or someone you know, may have a gambling problem you may like to consider self-excluding (or talking to your relative/friend about self-excluding) from a gambling venue(s). Self-exclusion means that if a patron identifies him or herself as a problem gambler they can ask a gambling venue(s) to exclude them from the gambling area of the venue(s) for a period of up to two years.

Multi Venue Exclusion: Multiple Venue Exclusion (MVE) is an extension to single venue self-exclusion. It allows gamblers to self-exclude from multiple venues without having to visit each individual site. It is an intervention tool in New Zealand since 2004. Since then MVE has evolved and expanded to most parts of the country.

A Multi Venue Exclusion is generally initiated by a problem gambling service provider; on behalf of a client; who has opted to self-exclude from the gambling venues of their choice. If a gambler requests self-exclusion at a venue; the venue manager must exclude the individual immediately. It should help them contact the local MVE coordinator and exclude that gambler from their venue.

After the initiation of the exclusion process, it becomes a criminal offense. If you breach an exclusion order you may face a fine of up to $500 (Section 312, Gambling Act 2003).

Failure by a venue manager to prevent an excluded person from entering the gambling area or removing them is also a criminal offense. The penalty for venue managers, or a person acting on their behalf, is a maximum fine of $5,000.

To avoid a conviction venue staff need to prove:

Suitable harm minimization procedures and measures were in place; and

It implements the procedures and measures.

The Ministry of Health (the Ministry) and the Department of Internal Affairs (DIA) both have involvement with MVE. The agencies’ individual mandates mean the Ministry takes the lead regarding the gambling harm prevention and minimization component; while DIA takes the lead regarding regulatory (compliance) issues.
If you think you or someone you know may have a gambling problem, talking to someone can help. Find a problem gambling service near you.

Contact details for problem gambling services around the country (www.health.govt.nz)

How to Stay Safe from Online Problem Gambling?

RNG and Pokies -Do Pokies Play a Number Game
How to stay safe from online Problem Gambling?

Online gambling is a growing activity in the world. Unlike local gambling outlets, New Zealand has no laws that protect us from gambling products
created overseas and available to you online. There is no guarantee that you will get your money out once you have put
it in; there is no guarantee that you are playing with a real person, and the algorithms are for the site owners to make a profit. Although some sites offer the ability to self exclude from the gambling site; these are not always possible and do not prevent push notifications to your devices.

Below are some tips on what you can do to keep safe online:

  • Gamban is an easy to use app. It blocks online gambling on all of your devices, offering a secure, reliable, and affordable option to stay away from
    gambling sites and apps.
  • BetBlocker is a free tool to help control your gambling. Install it on as many devices as you like and it will block access to over 12,000 gambling websites.
  • At online casinos in NZ there is an option to set your budget to play pokies. You can set the limit of your amount that you wish to spend at online casino. Generally this is available when you first login to your new online casino account.
  • Play pokies sensibly and wisely. Don’t spend beyond your set limits when you play at online casinos.