Online Lotto first of two stage plan, says chairman
NZ LOTTERIES has revealed that selling Lottery tickets online is the first of a twostage plan that could see it offer ‘‘more adventurous games’’ over the Internet within two years.
Retailers expect NZ Lotteries to begin selling tickets to its Saturday Lotto and Big Wednesday draws online by the end of April. But NZ Lotteries chairman John Goulter told MPs that was only the first stage of a plan to offer a wider range of Lotto products on the Web.
‘‘The belief and understanding we have with the Government is that, should stage one create no problems, the government of the day would then entertain looking at stage two,’’ Mr Goulter told Parliament’s government administration select committee.
Spokeswoman Karen Jones would not comment on whether the ‘‘more adventurous games’’ would include an online equivalent to NZ Lotteries’ Instant Kiwi ‘‘scratchies’’.
But Mr Goulter noted that ‘‘a whole raft’’ of lotto products were offered by the commission’s counterparts in Britain and Scandinavia. These include an online equivalent of scratchies.
Problem Gambling Foundation chief executive John Stansfield says a staged plan to offer such games online would be ‘‘a significant betrayal of trust’’ as instant win games posed a similar risk of addiction as other forms of gambling that allowed continuous play, such as pokies.
‘‘What has happened to lotteries internationally is that you see a trend — in what is a relatively flat market for them — to try to increase the opportunities to bet. So ‘weekly Keno’ becomes ‘daily Keno’, becomes ‘Keno every eight minutes’.’’
The Gambling Act, passed by the Government in 2003, promised to facilitate community involvement in decisions about the provision of gambling, Mr Stansfield says.
‘‘If there is a staged plan by the Government, through the Lotteries Commission, to increase the provision of gambling, then it has not obeyed the principle it set down in the act.’’
NZ Lotteries chief executive Todd McLeay gave details of controls insisted on by Internal Affairs Minister Rick Barker to limit problem gambling when tickets to Lotto’s weekly draws go online.
Players would not be able to buy online more than $300 of Lotto tickets in a month or $150 in a week and would be able to set themselves a lower limit that they could not change till after a one week ‘‘stand down’’ period.
NZ Lotteries could become ‘‘proactive’’ about problem gambling by sending players information if they breached or approached these limits, Mr McLeay says.
Mr Goulter joked with MPs that the controls were ‘‘a lot more than would happen’’ if he owned Lotto.
Mr McLeay says spending limits can be extremely useful, but it would be better if they were properly researched.
‘‘The Government has an expert advisory group on gambling. It hasn’t referred this to them. $300 a month, I would suggest, is a hell of a lot of money to someone on a benefit, for instance.’’
Pushing its luck?: NZ Lotteries has an understanding with the Government that more Lotto products may go online if ‘stage one’ doesn’t contribute to problem gambling.
John Goulter: Too many controls.