Pokies rules review will reduce harm to vulnerable communities in Aotearoa

  • Will provide a mechanism to tackle pokies harm in the short-term
  • Aims to target and reduce the harm experienced by people who use pokies and their whānau and friends
  • Work with venues on what they need to do to recognise and manage at-risk gamblers
  • Look at pokie machine features which could make machines safer to play
  • Strengthen enforcement tools for non-compliance with gambling harm minimisation rules

A review of Class 4 gambling machine (pokies) regulations for harm minimisation will help support vulnerable communities, Internal Affairs Minister Jan Tinetti announced today.

The review, which is now underway, aims to target and reduce harm experienced by some people who use pokies and people close to them.

“Pokies are known to be the most harmful form of land-based gambling in Aotearoa, and this review will target ways to reduce harm experienced by people who use pokies and those close to them,” Jan Tinetti said.

“Harmful pokies gambling accounts for the majority of referrals to gambling treatment providers, and for much of the second-hand gambling harm experienced by a gambler’s whānau and friends.”

Data from the 2020 Health and Lifestyles Survey indicates that about 10 percent of New Zealanders play pokies, with one in five players considered to be at-risk from gambling harm.

“The review will bring greater clarity around what venues need to recognise and manage at-risk gamblers, how pokie machine features can assist, and enforcement tools for non-compliance with gambling harm minimisation rules.” For example:

  • more prescriptive tools to help venue staff to identify concerning gambling behaviour, and
  • making changes to some of the machine’s features to discourage continuous, harmful gambling.

Gambling harm tends to affect those who can least afford it and may already be experiencing social or financial challenges. This includes our Māori and Pacific communities. Gambling can not only lead to debt, but financial hardship, family violence, relationship strain and difficulties sustaining employment, among other harms,” Jan Tinetti said.

“We encourage any community or individual who wishes to get involved with the review to have their say, by providing feedback and ideas on the proposed changes.

“We have the chance to create serious change. Feedback from public consultation in addition to harm treatment providers, societies and gambling venues will help us create regulations informed by gamblers, their whānau and friends, and people who work with those experiencing harm,” Jan Tinetti said.

Public consultation began on 17 March 2022 and will run for six weeks. Head to www.dia.govt.nz/reducingpokiesharm to read the public discussion document, including quick-reads in a number of languages.

This work aligns with the Government’s current Strategy to Prevent and Minimise Gambling Harm 2022/23 to 2024/25.

Minister Tinetti seeks to have more appropriate harm minimisation regulations for pokies in place in the first half of 2023.