New Zealand’s Department of Internal Affairs (DIA) has published a discussion document looking at the state of online gambling on the island. However, the DIA discussion document is receiving some backlash from both sides of the aisle. Both supporters of web-based casinos and anti-gambling advocates find the discussion document misunderstanding and lacking in its conceptualisation of gambling online.
Activists of public health in NZ fighting to reduce gambling-related harm find the DIA discussion document lacking. It believes that it’s putting more focus on making online gambling easily accessible for companies targeting New Zealand. They think that the paper needs to focus on finding mechanisms and methods to tackle gambling addiction.
While, on the other hand, those in support of a New Zealand online gambling market have criticised the DIA for wanting to shutdown access to offshore sites. They see the government’s efforts to reduce online gambling as poorly thought out.
For example, Kiwi internet service providers (ISPs) like Spark and Vodafone, have expressed concern over the tactics laid out in the DIA discussion document.
DIA Discussion Document Critics’ Opinions
Opponents of the proposed possible ban on accessing offshore gambling sites say the DIA discussion document hasn’t ironed out all the details properly. One of the aspects the document explores is that visitors to NZ and Kiwi players could face suspension from gambling at both offshore and local sites that aren’t licensed by the government. Furthermore, it adds that there need to be prosecution guidelines and compliance strategies if there is to be a formal NZ online casino local market.
Another factor the DIA discussion document looks at is the idea of geo-blocking. This is when content providers block access to people from certain countries. So, in this case, the offshore site would have to ban NZ players from accessing their games. However, according to experts, the DIA is misusing the term. Furthermore, it’s highly unlikely that gambling sites would voluntarily block players.
Additionally, in further exploring geo-blocking, the DIA discussion document says that it may be censorship, especially if it’s broad. However, if service providers are operating without a license or are flouting local legislation, then it wouldn’t be censorship.
According to the CEO of InternetNZ, Jordan Carter, the DIA needs to carefully consider the decision about bans. What’s stopping the internet ban from extending to other areas of the internet? Meanwhile, Carter said, he remains sceptical about the effectiveness of geo-blocking.
ISPs in New Zealand also doubt the DIA discussion document proposal’s effectiveness. In a statement from Vodafone, tasking ISPs with policing the internet is inappropriate. While they do block access to sites they’re required to suspend, they won’t voluntarily support a blanket ban on global online gambling sites. They would do so if there is legislation that requires them to do so.
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