The Department of Internal Affairs

Te Tari Taiwhenua | Department of Internal Affairs

Building a safe, prosperous and respected nation


Gambling Regulator keeps watch as taverns open under Alert Level 2

22 May 2020

The Department of Internal Affairs’ Gambling Regulator is keeping a close watch on the pokie sector as taverns with pokie machines start lawfully operating gambling under Alert Level 2.

Chris Thornborough, Programme Manager with the Gambling Regulator, says he does not have major concerns about the gambling industry’s response to the lockdown or Alert Level 2.

“For the past week, pokie venues where food is served could operate gambling lawfully while others, such as taverns, could not.

“We have followed up with the few taverns that may have jumped the gun and started pokie gambling a week too early. But overall, this hasn’t been a widespread problem across the gambling sector.”

Mr Thornborough says any venues offering gambling need to do so safely and in accordance with government’s COVID-19 rules and guidelines and be consistent with the Gambling Act.

“We expect gambling venues to do their bit to keep New Zealanders safe from COVID-19. This means following the rules around social distancing, cleaning and contact tracing. We will not hesitate to refer any complaints we receive about gambling venues’ COVID-19 safety to the relevant authorities such as the Ministry of Health, WorkSafe New Zealand or even the Police for follow up.”