New Zealand Racing Minister Nathan Guy has announced plans to impose a tax on offshore betting agencies that enable players to gamble on New Zealand racing and sporting events. At this stage, there are no plans to attempt to bring similar legislation into play regarding online casinos, which cannot be operated from within the country but which nevertheless are able to accept New Zealand players.
The move, the result of findings by the Offshore Betting Working Group established by Mr Guy and outlined in a speech at the AGM of the New Zealand Racing Board, is designed to recoup money lost to the racing industry to overseas bookmakers, upon which racing in New Zealand is highly dependent. In the region of NZD$58 million is estimated to be gambled every year on New Zealand racing with offshore betting agencies.
The intention is to introduce an Offshore Bookmaker Fee, which would see operators incurring a fee every time they accept a bet on a New Zealand horse race or sporting event. This would apply to wagers made by overseas punters as well as locals.
Currently, the official TAB in New Zealand offers online wagering on local racing and sports events, but it’s thought that the greater variety of products and better odds and pricing offered by overseas bookmakers is what attracts locals to bet elsewhere other than the government-regulated TAB. The Offshore Betting Working Group report therefore also recommended that the remit of the TAB in New Zealand be broadened so that it could become more competitive through offering a greater range of betting products and services.
Mr Guy has said that offshore betting companies are benefitting at the expense of New Zealand racing and that the profits from money wagered offshore should be returned to the industry: “Our laws do not prevent New Zealanders from betting with overseas bookmakers, but this activity takes place outside our domestic regulatory framework; a framework that requires the New Zealand TAB operator to return its profits to sustain New Zealand racing,” he added.
As it is currently not legal for an online casino to be operated from within New Zealand, meaning players here have no local alternative, there are no plans as yet to instigate a licensing and taxation system similar to that which has been introduced in the UK, where online casinos need to be licensed by the Gambling Commission and where every wager is taxed.
However, this latest regulatory move in respect of online betting does suggest that the whole area of gambling online in New Zealand is under review.