On­line Lotto first of two stage plan, says chair­man

The Dominion Post - - Nz Infotech - TOM PULLAR-STRECKER

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.

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