- »SkyCity Plans for NZ iGaming Despite Possible Credit Card Ban
SkyCity Plans for NZ iGaming Despite Possible Credit Card Ban
New Zealanders watching the online casino and internet gaming space may be in for an interesting battle. As SkyCity prepares to launch an online gambling site called Skycitycasino, the New Zealand government is responding by considering a credit card ban for online gaming activities. All of it could lead to a standoff that will test the nation’s gaming laws.
Skycitycasino To Launch This Year
In May of this year, SkyCity announced that it was preparing to offer an online casino gaming platform for New Zealand customers.
SkyCity Entertainment Group’s Maltese subsidiary partnered with Gaming Innovation Group (GiG) to develop and prepare the platform for launch. The SkyCityCasino-dot-com URL will launch this year, if all goes to plan. New Online Director Steve Salmon, who is based in Europe, will manage Skycitycasino.
The press release noted that current New Zealand law only allows government-owned Lotto and TAB to offer online gaming from within the country. Meanwhile, it recognised that many New Zealanders give their business to online casino operators located offshore. In fact, studies show that they spend as much as $160 million per year on those sites.
SkyCity wants to be the next offshore operator of the sort. The operator also stated that it will “ensure that its obligations under New Zealand GST legislation are complied with.” The site will subsequently be one offered by a well-known company with a positive reputation. In other words, one that customers will be able to trust.
The announcement from SkyCity prompted a fairly quick response from the New Zealand government. Internal Affairs Minister Tracey Martin said she was “disappointed they are forging ahead.”
However, that came with an admission that current law is inadequate to stop it. Legislation currently only prohibits SkyCity from running a site based in New Zealand, not out of Malta as planned.
Martin does plan to propose some type of regulations that will allow for the New Zealand government to oversee and tax the site and others like it. However, it will take years to enact such legislation.
SkyCity knows that it will be prohibited from advertising the site to New Zealanders. However, it plans to rely on news reports, press releases, SEO rankings, and word of mouth to attract players. The company is actually working with the government to ensure that no laws are broken in the process of launching and operating the online gaming site.
Opposition by PGF
The Problem Gambling Foundation plans to fight the launch of the site, fearing that problem gambling issues will escalate. Especially considering the inability of the government to provide oversight. Further, though, the group opposes all online gambling.
PGF Chief Paula Snowden told Stuff: “We would, and do, oppose anything that leads to a growth in gambling because New Zealanders are already hurting from the growth in gambling now. The harm in those areas is out of control now.”
There are no exact figures as to how much money Kiwis actually currently spend on offshore casino sites. Nevertheless, estimates say it is as much as $400 million per year.
Possible Credit Card Ban
Since the law is ambiguous about the practice of online gambling at the present time, the Department of Internal Affairs may have found another way to curb those activities in the form of a credit card ban.
The government is reviewing laws to assess the difficulty and potential effectiveness of a ban on the use of credit cards on offshore internet casino sites. Current law allows credit card use for horse betting and topping up individual TAB betting accounts. This is the most popular form of funding online accounts.
As for lottery purchases, credit cards are allowed but implement spending limits. This may be an effective method for curbing offshore internet gambling charges as well.
The Department of Internal Affairs plans to look into a total credit card ban on internet casino sites. At the very least, it wants to implement limits. It plans to report its research findings and recommendations to the government by the end of 2019. However, the SkyCity site may be launched by then and restrictions may be tougher to implement.