Government delivers changes to reduce pokies harm

Internal Affairs

The Government has announced changes to strengthen requirements in venues with pokie (gambling) machines will come into effect from 15 June.

“Pokies are one of the most harmful forms of gambling. They can have a detrimental impact on individuals, their friends, whānau and communities,” Internal Affairs Minister Barbara Edmonds said.

“After first announcing changes in November 2022, we are now progressing this work by confirming requirements and a clear timeline on when these will occur.

“Changes which apply to pubs, clubs and TAB NZ venues, will be staggered over the next six months, giving the sector enough time to provide training to staff and implement necessary layout requirements.”

The key changes for pokies venues include:

15 June:

  • Three new infringement offences come into force ensuring more robust enforcement of existing harm minimisation regulations, including on branding and advertising requirements.

1 September:

  • New requirements about what problem gambling awareness training must cover, including mandatory sessions on how to interact with gamblers, identify signs of harm and provide gamblers with information on how they can seek help.

1 December:

  • New venue layout requirements that staff must be able to easily monitor ATMs from the main bar or service area, and pokie machines must generally not be visible outside venues.
  • Clearer requirements around identifying harm, such as regular sweeps at least three times per hour while gambling areas are operating and recording signs of gambling harm. Venue managers are required to review these records weekly.
  •  Staff involved in supervising gambling must be trained and receive training each year.
  • A range of new penalties to help enforce the new harm minimisation regulations.

“Each year, pokies are the biggest driver of people seeking gambling related help in Aotearoa. It is clear that these changes need to be made to help venues better identify and minimise harm to players,” Barbara Edmonds said.

“By making requirements on pokie venues clearer and more enforceable, staff will have the tools and knowledge to identify and act on harmful gambling more often and more consistently.

“I would like to thank everyone who provided feedback, including the gambling harm treatment sector and the class 4 gambling sector. Their input into the development process was invaluable to improving changes,” Barbara Edmonds said.

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