Alarm as Lotto eyes ‘online scratchies’
Lotto is working on plans to sell ‘‘online scratchies’’, in a move that has alarmed the Problem Gambling Foundation.
In a newly released tender document, Lotto NZ has called for proposals from companies that create ‘‘instant win games’’.
It wants to run the games through its MyLotto platform, which has more than 400,000 registered users.
In the tender document, Lotto says it sees potential to boost its online sales with the instant-win games, which combine the ‘‘familiarity’’ of Instant Kiwi scratchies with ‘‘the innovation and interactivity’’ of playing online.
Instant-win games – which allow users to gamble small sums per punt via websites or through mobile apps – have proven a popular revenue generator for lottery agencies in other countries.
Lotto said yesterday that, if the proposal went ahead, measures would be put in place to ensure users gambled responsibly.
But the Problem Gambling Foundation says overseas evidence suggests the games’ arrival here would increase harm by making a new form of instant gambling easily accessible, via means such as smartphones.
‘‘In an online environment, there is real potential for this to be quite harmful,’’ foundation spokeswoman Andree Froude said.
‘‘It would mean that 24/7 you’re carrying around the opportunity to gamble like this in your pocket.’’
The foundation was also concerned that instant-win games would allow Lotto to collect information from punters, which would allow it to undertake ‘‘aggressive and targeted advertising’’ aimed at certain groups, including young people.
‘‘The devil will definitely be in the detail in terms of how they protect consumers with this type of game,’’ Froude said.
Lotto’s tender document says its proposal for instant-win games would require ‘‘regulatory approval’’.
At $125 million, annual sales of Instant Kiwi scratchies currently account for about 15 per cent of Lotto’s retail revenue.
Introducing instant-win games would be ‘‘a natural choice given the success of Instant Kiwi in conjunction with the revenue potential seen in other [overseas] lottery jurisdictions’’, the document says.
A Lotto spokeswoman said the possibility of launching instant-win games was first signalled a couple of years ago, but remained just a proposal.
It was working with other government agencies ‘‘to ensure that any risk of potential problem gambling associated with this game will be minimised’’.
MyLotto users were already subjected to ‘‘responsible play’’ measures, including a mandatory $500 a month spending limit.
If instant-win games were launched, Lotto would introduce further measures, including mandatory age verification and enforced play breaks, the spokeswoman said.
As with Instant Kiwi, the new games would be externally audited to ensure payouts were in line with punters’ expectations.
A spokesman for Internal Affairs Minister Peter Dunne said it was early days for the proposal, but the minister had been assured by Lotto that it would work alongside the Ministry of Health’s gambling harm team, and consult the Problem Gambling Foundation as it developed its plans.