NZ considers banning credit cards for online gambling

Using credit cards to gamble online may be banned in New Zealand as the country’s gaming regulator looks at measures to minimize harm.

Earlier this year, SKYCITY, New Zealand’s major casino operator, announced plans to move into online gaming on a platform operated from Malta.

The Department of Internal Affairs, the industry regulator, is reviewing the laws around online gambling to “ensure that they are fit for purpose,” a spokesman said.

New Zealanders are free to gamble in offshore casinos and SKYCITY estimates up to $160 million (US$110 million) is invested each year, only a fraction of the $2.4 billion (US$1.6 billion) invested each year in all forms of gambling including online gambling through Lotto and the TAB.

The DIA spokesman said the department was also looking at ways to minimize harm for gambling, which included examining whether a ban on the use of credit cards would be effective.

SKYCITY is reluctant to be drawn into the debate but has said that it would comply with any legislative requirements. It was currently pressing ahead with its own plans for an online gaming platform.

Lotto currently has weekly spending limits of purchases but permits credit cards sales online and over the counter. A spokesman for the Racing Board which owns and runs the TAB said it was looking at introducing spending limits for some customers.

At present, it does allow the use of credit cards to bet on horses but cards can be used to top up individual betting accounts at the TAB, and about two-thirds of account holders use this method.

The Department will report to the government later this year.