Officials in New Zealand are under serious fire. Accusations say that local lotteries are allowing minors to regularly buy tickets. According to reports, little is being done to fix the situation, despite an increase in global responsible gambling concerns. The truth is that New Zealand gambling laws are behind the rest of the world in many ways. No official laws prohibit minors from purchasing the majority of Lotto products.
Lottery products are restricted to under 18s almost everywhere in the world. In New Zealand, the only Lotto product restricted by age is Instant Kiwi. Other gambling products can be bought by minors, including the popular Keno and Bulls Eye. The only other country with similarly lax gambling laws is Australia. In Australia some gambling products have an age restriction of just 16.
Damning Local Research
The Auckland University’s Gambling Addictions Research Centre put the situation into perspective. The group published research that paints a very grim picture. Department director Maria Bellringer led the project.
According to Bellringer her team investigated roughly 900 9 year old children. The investigation found that 7% of the 900 had purchased tickets for New Zealand’s Lotto Draw. The result invokes previous research regarding those younger than 13 engaging in gambling. Namely that the circumstances create an increased risk of problem gambling in minors.
Major Changes Needed Fast
Bellringer reiterated that anyone in New Zealand, regardless of age, can engage in gambling. She stressed that allowing minors to buy tickets is normalising gambling behaviour. She concluded that the lack of relevant age restrictions needs to be addressed immediately.
Bellringer’s concerns were echoed by Problem Gambling Foundation spokesperson Andree Froude. Froude confessed to being gobsmacked that children as young as 7 are buying lottery tickets on a regular basis.
Lotto Not To Blame
Chris Lyman is the CEO of the Lotto Corporation. He was quick to declare that the lack of New Zealand gambling age restrictions is not his fault. He stressed that he would be happy with the same minimum age policies seen in other countries, adding that the decision is not his. He explained that New Zealand gambling laws need to be changed on a state level.
As it stands the New Zealand Gambling act only takes into account the Instant Kiwi Lotto product. Other products such as Bullseye and Keno were not created locally. This means that they are not technically mentioned in the official laws. Lyman reiterated that these laws must get altered in order to include additional Lotto products.
Internal Affairs Minister Jan Tinetti made a statement. She declared that the issue is being addressed. She did not explain why the issue has not already been addressed, nor when it will eventually get addressed.