The Department of Internal Affairs

Te Tari Taiwhenua | Department of Internal Affairs

Building a safe, prosperous and respected nation


Gambling trusts and venues must help problem gamblers

24 July 2012

Gaming machines in a Huntly bar will be switched off for two days next week (30 and 31 July) because a staff member was not trained to deal with problem gamblers.

Internal Affairs’ Gambling Compliance Director, Debbie Despard, said the two-day suspension of Pub Charity’s gaming machine operator’s licence at a Huntly bar emphasises the responsibilities gambling trusts have to ensure bar staff are adequately trained to deal with problem gambling. It also highlights the importance of gaming societies ensuring that their venues comply with all gambling law requirements.

The Department suspended Pub Charity’s licence for one day after a complaint that the sole staff member at McGinty"s Turf and Sports Bar failed to issue a self-exclusion order to a problem gambler, due to lack of training.

The Gambling Commission doubled the sanction after the trust appealed the Department’s decision. The Commission said it was very concerned that a problem gambler “who had decided to take the difficult step of seeking self-exclusion to avoid ongoing harm” had not been able to make good the commitment on the day in question. Pub Charity had breached an important obligation over about three months.

Debbie Despard said self-exclusion allows a person to ask a venue manager to ban them from a venue for two years and can be very effective for people experiencing harm from gambling. Venues will be aware that a person has self-excluded and must take action if they try to re-enter.

“Gambling societies are responsible for ensuring that a person trained in problem gambling awareness is on duty whenever there is gambling offered,” she said.

The Department is working with problem gambling services and gambling operators to introduce multi-venue exclusion (MVE) programmes around the country.

“These allow a person to self-exclude from several venues at once without having to visit each personally,” Debbie Despard said. “Providing a ‘one-stop shop’ avoids the daunting prospect of a problem gambler having to repeatedly seek self-exclusion, losing resolve in the process.”

The MVE programme was started in 2006 by Internal Affairs’ gambling inspectors in Queenstown, where approximately 170 gamblers have sought self-exclusion. The programme was extended to Invercargill, Dunedin, Nelson, Hamilton, Rotorua and Tauranga; Christchurch, Lower Hutt and Auckland are the latest areas to implement MVEs. The United Kingdom’s problem gambling care provider, GamCare, adopted a similar scheme after being briefed on the programme.

Media contact:
Trevor Henry, senior communications adviser, Department of Internal Affairs
Ph 04 495 7211; cell 021 245 8642