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New Zealand Internal Affairs Seeks Public Opinion on Online Gambling

George Miller

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New Zealand Internal Affairs Seeks Public Opinion on Online Gambling
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New Zealand’s Department of Internal Affairs (DIA) is asking the public for their opinion regarding the potential expansion of online gambling activities in the country. Earlier this week the department launched a consultation on the matter that will be available online here until September 30th. Interested citizens can fill out a submission form outlining their feelings about how online gambling should be regulated going forward. The country is looking to update laws that it feels may no longer be relevant since the current Gambling Act was formed in 2003.

The speed at which technology has developed means current regulation may be insufficient to properly protect players from risks associated with online gambling. In the consultation which is available on the DIA government website, Te Tari Taiwhenua states: “We need to update our laws for today’s digital world and future-proof them as much as possible.”

The consultation’s submission form asks NZ citizens several questions, mostly in relation to harm reduction and the scope of growth the government should consider. One specific question that could have notable repercussions on the online gambling industry states: “Do you think New Zealanders should be prohibited or restricted from accessing online gambling websites and applications that are not licensed under the New Zealand regime?”

Currently, the majority of online gambling sites available to players in New Zealand are licensed abroad. A change to this rule would severely limit access to many online platforms but would also give the DIA the ability to enact safer regulations via locally managed platforms. The change would also channel the estimated NZ$2 million that gamblers spend monthly back into local businesses rather than out of the country. Speaking to the New Zealand Herald, Internal Affairs Minister Tracey Martin expressed her shock at the news: “This is big money coming out of New Zealand and we don’t know where those gamblers are or if they can afford to do so.”

While the problems require addressing, the DIA goes on to note that it does not intend to cripple the online gambling industry but to simply ensure that there are sufficient regulations in place to protect citizens.

Explosive growth raises concerns

The global online gambling industry has grown exponentially in the past decade, leading to a sharp rise in available platforms and ways to play. After local New Zealand casino operator SkyCity announced plans to launch its own online platform earlier this year, the DIA has begun looking into stricter regulation. Previously, only the state-run Lotto and sports betting site TAB have been licensed to offer online gambling services.

Founded in 1996, Auckland-based SkyCity Entertainment Group operates four of the six major land-based casinos in New Zealand and one in Australia. There is a concern that the new online platform, which SkyCity is planning in partnership with its Maltese subsidiary SkyCity Malta, could bring a wave of new gamblers into the sector. One of the first concerns that the DIA hopes to address is a ban on the use of credit cards for online gambling.

There are now many gambling directory sites that aim to offer comprehensive lists of reputable platforms, like the top-rated pokies for NZ based players. With largely unregulated growth expanding the online gambling industry globally, directory listing and review sites help to give players an idea of which sites are safer or more preferable to use.

The Gambling Commission of New Zealand, an independent body formed under the 2003 Gambling Act, also helps to regulate the industry and offers impartial investigations into legal issues related to licensing. It recently heard an appeal from SkyCity regarding a proposed change in its annual charitable trust donations which it hopes to align with funding received in previous years.

Industry News

Melco Appoints Grant Johnson as New Head of City of Dreams Mediterranean and Cyprus Casinos

Niji Narayan

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Melco Appoints Grant Johnson as New Head of City of Dreams Mediterranean and Cyprus Casinos
Photo Source: cypruscasinos.com
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Melco Resorts and Entertainment has promoted Grant Johnson as the Senior Vice President and Property General Manager of City of Dreams Mediterranean and Cyprus Casinos “C2”. Johnson will report to Evan Andrew Winkler, President of Melco.

Johnson is responsible for the continued development of the upcoming City of Dreams Mediterranean which will be the largest Integrated Resort (IR) in Europe and the management and operations of Cyprus Casinos. Mr. Craig Ballantyne, Property President of City of Dreams Mediterranean and Cyprus Casinos, retired on April 1.

“Congratulations to Grant Johnson on his new appointment. With his proven track record of delivering growth for the company I am confident that we can continue pushing boundaries as a global leader in innovative luxury entertainment offerings. This promotion represents Melco’s commitment to internal career opportunities. I also wish to thank Mr. Craig Ballantyne for his outstanding service to Melco as Property President of City of Dreams Mediterranean and Cyprus Casinos and wish him the very best for his retirement,” Lawrence Ho, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Melco, said.

Prior to this promotion, Johnson was SVP, Casino Sales, Marketing & Operations at Studio City in Macau, and previously was SVP, Casino Sales & Marketing for Altira Macau and Mocha Clubs. Prior to this, Johnson handled various non-gaming marketing roles throughout Melco properties in Macau. Johnson began his career with Melco in 2011.

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Industry News

Zimpler Announces Expansion to the EU and the UK

Niji Narayan

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Zimpler Announces Expansion to the EU and the UK
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Fintech company Zimpler has announced its expansion into the EU and the UK.

Zimpler is a Swedish Fintech company that manages transactions between end users and businesses. Now, they leave the Nordics and will enable companies to do instant payouts to customers in the EU and UK within the year.

“Payouts is medieval outside of the Nordics. Today you will have to wait for days before you get your money into your bank account, with our solution it will take seconds,” Jonas Persson, VP sales at Zimpler, said.

First to go live with the solution is iGaming company Videoslots.

“We have been working with Zimpler in the Swedish market for many years and we are thrilled with how constructive and solution-oriented they are in all situations. That they now expand their solution to other European markets is fantastic news and it will change the market at its core,” Ali Atam, CMO at Videoslots, said.

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Industry News

Gauselmann Group Opens New Venues in UK

Niji Narayan

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Gauselmann Group Opens New Venues in UK
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German gambling company Gauselmann group has gone one step further by investing in the high street and launching its Merkur Slots brand nationally. The company has opened three brand-new venues in Southall, Hornchurch and Lancaster on July 4.

Gauselmann group plans to open many more Merkur Slots venues across the UK this year. The company will open with three more venues in Saltash, Bolton and Wolverhampton, this month.

“This is a very exciting time for the Merkur Slots brand. So many companies haven’t survived the effects of the pandemic and we are delighted to be able to give customers a brand-new experience in locations where we don’t currently have a presence. It means a lot to us to be part of kick-starting the high street again and supporting the local community with new job opportunities,” Mark Schertle, COO of Gauselmann group, said.

Merkur Slots provides the latest in digital venues. All machines and advertising are fully digitised and customers will be able to enjoy all of their favourite games, as well as the latest in Blueprint games.

All venues will be COVID-secure, with Gauselmann group implementing an “Open, clean, safe” campaign which will focus heavily on ensuring new safety precautions are in-place and everything is communicated effectively with customers, via social channels and the official website.

“We look forward to welcoming customers back to gaming after a small hiatus and we feel we have a unique edge in that we can offer them brand-new, modern venues that have been designed with social distancing in mind. Customers can game with total confidence. Thank you to all our staff who have worked tirelessly to get the venues up and running ahead of opening,” Schertle said.

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