Chris Lyman – CEO of the New Zealand Lotteries Commission (Lotto NZ) – has expressed his company’s willingness to introduce age restrictions over the sales of its products.
However, as reported by RNZ, Lyman and Lotto NZ are being limited by the laws that are currently in place in New Zealand.
As it stands, the only product in New Zealand which is age restricted is Instant Kiwi, meaning children have access to lottery tickets and other gambling products like Keno.
“I can’t step outside the law,” Lyman said. “I can’t impose an age restriction.
“I’m not a lawmaker.”
Lyman added: “I would fully support an age restriction on all of our products. Absolutely. I see no reason why anybody under the age of 18 should buy our products.
“However, I don’t have that power.”
These laws – or lack of them – are coming under criticism, though, with Maria Bellringer, Director of Auckland University of Technology’s Gambling and Addictions Research Centre, among the experts to have studied the subject in detail.
Bellringer studied gambling habits among nearly 900 Pasifika children, aged 9 years old and living in New Zealand, and found 7% of them had bought a Lotto ticket.
“At the moment, anyone who’s able to walk and talk could walk into a store and buy a Lotto ticket and be sold one,” Bellringer said.
“It just normalises gambling behaviour as being something that anyone can do and is fun and fine.”
This could be about to change, however, after Internal Affairs Minister Jan Tinetti told RNZ she will consider changing the current laws in place in order to protect young people.
“That is work that is completely on the table,” Lyman said.
The New Zealand Government and Lotto NZ have both shown their commitment to preventing gambling harm after announcing investment earlier this year.
NZD $76m has been pledged – partly-funded through a levy paid by Lotto NZ – with the money to be made available to support training pathways and boost the skills and diversity of a workforce, including peer and cultural support workers, as well as expansion of digital services.