The Department of Internal Affairs

Te Tari Taiwhenua | Department of Internal Affairs

Building a safe, prosperous and respected nation


First quarter of Gambling Act: limits on casinos; fewer gaming machines

September 30 marked the first quarter of the Gambling Act being fully in force. Since being passed, the Act has brought change to all forms of licensed gambling, including: strict limits on casinos; the first ever reductions in the number of gaming machines in pubs and clubs; and simpler licensing rules for community groups.

The Acting Director of the Department of Internal Affairs’ Gaming and Censorship Regulation Group, Peter Burke, said that an important change is that for the first time the law includes provisions aimed at minimising the harm caused by gambling. These provisions have brought interesting comments from some sector participants.

The Managing Director of Skycity, Evan Davies, said on radio and in newspapers that the limits put on banknote acceptors on gaming machines had reduced gambling. The impact has been mostly on machines at the Auckland casino that have games involving stakes of 20 cents or more.

Casinos cannot extend use of cashless technology on gaming machines

For casinos, the Casino Control Act has been repealed and replaced with the Gambling Act. This has included disestablishment of the Casino Control Authority (CCA) and the transfer of its roles to the Department and the recently created Gambling Commission.

Specific changes include bans on: granting any new casino licences; existing casinos expanding their gambling operations; automatic teller machines in gambling areas; and, since March 18, banknote acceptors on gaming machines taking $50 and $100 notes

After banknote acceptors were limited to accepting notes of up to $20 only, Skycity Auckland applied to the CCA for approval to use a ticket system. The tickets have a value of up to $500 each.

The CCA gave limited approval, before the new Act came fully into force, allowing the tickets to be used on up to 300 of the casino’s 1,647 machines. They cannot be used on other machines or at other casinos.

The Department has allowed the CCA’s authorisation to remain in force while it develops its own view of the ticket system under the new law.

Any request to extend cashless technology beyond what was approved by the CCA would be looked at very closely by the Department under the new Act, including in relation to the new harm minimisation provisions.

Fewer gaming machines in pubs and clubs

After the Act was passed in September 2003 the number of gaming machines in pubs and clubs dropped for the first time ever. Last quarter’s statistics show that the recent trends have continued. The number of:
· societies has decreased rapidly in recent years
· venues has decreased slowly
· gaming machines increased every quarter until the Act was passed and, since then, has slowly decreased each quarter.

The new licensing rules are stricter and make it harder to get a gaming machine licence and easier to lose it. Most licences expire on September 30 but in previous years many societies were very slow at applying to renew their licences. Many applications would be late, often by more than a month.

This year, with the risk that late application could lead to licences being cancelled, only 20 out of the expected 527 applications were outstanding on September 30.

The new Act allows the renewal dates to be staggered. Dates will be linked to each society’s financial year. This staggering will help prevent the future clustering of applications around one date.

No licensing fees for most community gambling

From July 1 most schools, churches, clubs and other community organisations using gambling for fundraising have not had to pay licensing fees. They no longer need licences for housie, raffles and other non-gaming machine gambling if the total prizes do not exceed $5,000. The previous limit was $500. The change has meant 90% of organisations using such gambling no longer need a licence and do not have to pay fees.

Gambling in pubs and clubs

Gaming machine operations licensed as at
30 June 2003
22 September 2003
31 December 2003
31 March 2004
30 June 2004
30 September 2004
1. “Corporate societies” are the organisations that own gaming machines.

Education and persuasion from
1 July to 30 September 2004
Audits of gaming machine societies from
1 July to 30 September 2004
  • 30 presentations to societies
  • 30 fact sheets published
  • nine media releases issued
  • five consultation documents and letters distributed
  • one issue of quarterly newsletter, Gambits
  • 18 completed
  • 57 underway

Casino gambling, maximum numbers allowed under the Gambling Act
Gaming machines
Skycity Auckland
Skycity Hamilton
Queenstown Wharf
Skycity Queenstown

Casino Compliance Unit activity July 1 to September 30 (previous quarter) included
Audits carried out by Inspectors 18 (18)
Investigations carried out by Inspectors 42 (47)
    Minors found in gaming areas 18 (14)
    Gamblers’ complaints 11 (19)
    Gamblers’ cheating 6 (5)
    Casino staff 5 (6)
    Casino operators 2 (3)

Gambling licences issued 1 July to 30 September 2004 (1 July to 30 September 2003)
Gaming machines
  • new licences 1 (1)
  • existing licences renewed 31 (39)
  • existing licences amended 306 (259)
Certificates of Approval2 83 (145)
Games of chance 2 (49)
Housie 2 (139)
Instant games 43
Lotteries 16 (319)
Prize competitions 1 (17)
2. All casino staff involved in gambling, money handling and management of these activities require a “Certificate of Approval” before they can be employed.
3. Instant games were previously reported among games of chance

Rules, regulations and standards now in force under the Gambling Act 2003
Rules gazetted:
  • Limits and Exclusions on Class 4 Venue Costs
  • Gambling Act (Class 4) Game Rules 2004
  • Gambling Act (Lottery) Game Rules 2004
  • Gambling Act (Housie) Game Rules 2004
  • Gambling Act (Prize Competitions) Game Rules 2004
  • Gambling Act (Game of Chance) Game Rules 2004
  • Gambling Act (Instant Game) Game Rules 2004
Regulations made:
  • Gambling (Fees and Revocations) Regulations 2004
  • Gambling (Forms) Regulations 2004
  • Gambling (Harm Prevention and Minimisation) Regulations 2004
  • Racing (Harm Prevention and Minimisation)
    Regulations 2004
  • Gambling (Problem Gambling Levy) Regulations 2004
  • Gambling Act (Casino Gambling Equipment) Minimum Standard 2004
  • Gambling Act (Class 4 Gambling Equipment) Minimum Standard 2004
Link here to: More Gaming Statistics (September 2004)

Media contacts

Peter Burke
Acting Director Gaming and Censorship Regulation Phone 04 495 9449, Cellular 027 242 1447

Vince Cholewa
Communications Advisor Phone 04 495 9350, Cellular 027 272 4270