The Salvation Army is strongly opposed to any liberalisation or expansion of online gambling in New Zealand. Over the last few years, the Department of Internal Affairs (DIA) has undertaken a review of online gambling in New Zealand. In our submission to this review in 2019, we argued that the review (and other statements and rhetoric) was framed in a way that pointed to an intention to expand the online gambling sector in different ways. On the DIA website itself, it stated that the next step after the public consultation and submission process was to provide advice to the Minister of Internal Affairs on a new regulatory system for online gambling. In 2021, our views have not changed. As a provider of gambling-harm treatment and support services (Salvation Army Oasis service), and a provider of numerous other Christian spiritual and social services in our communities, we remain opposed to any expansion in this area, as we daily see the damage of gambling harm and other social issues on people and whānau in local communities. We expect online gambling has the potential to be even more dangerous for people and whānau than pokie machines and other forms of gambling because of the ease of access and the private, hidden, or isolated nature of this form of gambling. This short advocacy paper summarises our views, provides some critical context to debate, and puts forward some key policy recommendations to contribute to this public debate.
‘Do not wear yourself out to get rich; do not trust your own cleverness. Cast but a glance at riches, and they are gone, for they will surely sprout wings and fly off to the sky like an eagle’ (Proverbs 23:4–5, NIV). This ancient proverb serves as a powerful warning to us all when pursuing money, especially through gambling. The quick financial fix that gambling promises to many often sprouts wings and flies off. According to Lotto New Zealand, if you buy a $7 ticket your odds of winning first division are 1 in 383,838. These odds are even more ominous with online gambling.
Download the full report below.