The New Zealand Labour Party is threatening to launch an all-out assault on online gambling should it prove victorious in the nation’s election on 20 September.
The Labour party has issued a statement saying that it intends to prioritise the introduction of legislation that would prohibit New Zealanders from betting with any offshore gambling site, including sportsbooks and online casinos.
Currently, under the terms of the Gambling Act 2003, “It is not illegal for someone in New Zealand to participate in gambling over the Internet if that website is based overseas.” However, should Labour seize power from John Key’s National Party, that is set to change.
An announcement by Labour MP Ross Roberston confirmed that the moves are being contemplated as a means of making more funds available to invest in New Zealand racing industry, as well as to increase tax revenue. Currently, winnings from offshore gambling are not taxable under New Zealand law.
The move has the support of The New Zealand Racing Board as it has long ben concerned with the popularity of offshore betting amongst Kiwi punters. The Board’s Chair, Glenda Hughes, has said that she believes that the popularity of offshore sites has now become a threat to the long-term viability of racing. “We have long called for measures to level the playing field and ensure the racing industry sees a benefit from their investment,” she said. “We have been working with the current government on this issue and we are pleased that both these political parties now see the need to take action.”
It has been estimated that New Zealanders wager between NZD$300-$400 million annually at offshore online sites, although some believe that these are conservative figures and the actual sum is some way beyond this. The racing industry is thought to contribute about NZD$1.6 billion annually to the New Zealand economy, with over 17,000 people working in racing and associated fields.
The Labour Party is also viewing the move as a way of increasing tax revenue, and believes that limiting punters to betting only with the locally-based and regulated TAB could raise an additional NZD$20 million each year.
This has prompted fears amongst players and punters that in order to head off the Opposition, the current National Party government, should it be re-elected, may also pursue a similar policy. Current Racing Minister Nathan Guy has said that this issue has now become a priority for the Government as well.
However, the good news for New Zealand online casino players and punters is that the ruling National Party retains a firm lead in the polls four weeks out from the election. Latest odds have the government at $1.09 to win the election, with Labour at $7.00 (out from $6.00).