Regulatory agency roles

Several agencies have regulatory responsibilities to ensure the purposes of the Gambling Act are met – that communities benefit from gambling proceeds while gambling harm is minimised.

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Department of Internal Affairs (the Department)

The Department is the primary regulator of gambling in New Zealand. It undertakes gambling licensing, compliance and enforcement functions in order to achieve the purposes of the Gambling Act 2003 (the Gambling Act).

The Gambling Act 2003

There is potential for tension between some of these purposes, therefore the Department’s decision-making must balance the need to minimise harm from gambling against community benefit from gambling proceeds.

Strategic direction

The Gambling Group’s Strategic direction 2020-2023 sets out to ‘Deliver community wellbeing through reducing gambling-related harms’.

These documents outline the department’s compliance and enforcement approach, and Gambling research reports:

Gambling research and reports

Find gambling related research links.

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Ministry of Health (The Ministry)

Under section 317 of the Gambling Act, the Government has allocated the responsibility for developing an integrated problem gambling strategy to the Ministry. The Ministry also provides information about gambling harm, the research activities undertaken and their approach to funding and coordinating problem gambling services.

Strategy to Prevent and Minimise Gambling Harm 2019/20-2021/22

Gambling information on the Ministry of Health website 

The Ministry must refresh and consult on the strategy every three years.  The strategy covers:

  • measures to promote public health by preventing and minimising the harm from gambling
  • services to treat and assist problem gamblers and their families and whanau
  • independent scientific research associated with gambling, including (for example) longitudinal research on the social and economic impacts of gambling, particularly the impacts on different cultural groups
  • evaluation.

The Ministry receives funding from the Gambling Levy (a levy on class 4 and other classes of gambling) to develop and implement the strategy. The Crown has reimbursed the cost of the strategy via a levy on gambling profits charged against TAB New Zealand (TAB NZ), the Lotteries Commission, casinos, societies and clubs that operate electronic gaming machines.

Summary of harm research key findings from the Ministry of Health gambling research

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Gambling Commission

The Gambling Commission is an independent statutory decision-making body established under the Gambling Act. It:

  • hears complaints and appeals against the decisions made by the Department of Internal Affairs in relation to class 4 gambling
  • hears and determines casino licensing applications
  • issues licences to casinos and authorises any changes to licence conditions.

The Gambling Commission has the powers of a Commission of Inquiry.

Gambling Commission website.

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Local and unitary councils (Territorial Authorities)

Local and unitary councils have a key role in ensuring community input into decisions about the provision of gambling in their area, which is one of the purposes of the Gambling Act.

Councils do this by:

  • developing and reviewing class 4 venue and TAB venue policies, which can limit the opportunities for, and help to manage the impacts of, gambling in their areas
  • applying their policy when assessing applications for council consent, including:
    • applications for a new class 4 venue licence
    • applications to increase the number of gaming machines at an existing venue 
    • applications for a new TAB venue licence
    • applications for mergers of 2 or more clubs.

Every council must adopt a TAB venue policy in relation to race and sports betting services in their district.

Under the Racing Act a council’s TAB venue policy:

  • must have regard to the social impact of gambling within their district
  • sets out whether or not new TAB venues may be established in the area, and if so, where. (Sections 96 and 97 of the Racing Industry Act 2020.)

Territorial authorities

Council profiles A-Z

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TAB New Zealand (TAB NZ)

TAB NZ was established in 2020 under the Racing Industry Act 2020. TAB NZ’s objectives are:

  • to facilitate and promote betting
  • subject to ensuring that risks of problem gambling and underage gambling are minimised, to maximise
    • its profits for the long-term benefit of New Zealand racing
    • its returns to New Zealand sports in accordance with agreements under the Act

Racing Industry Act 2020

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