New Zealand announces new harm minimisation requirements for EGMs

 The changes will be phased in over six months.
The changes will be phased in over six months.

The new EGM requirements will be implemented in three phases.

New Zealand.- The New Zealand government has announced changes to the requirements for venues with electronic gambling machines. The reforms will be rolled out in three phases over the next six months to give time for the sector to provide training to staff and implement the necessary changes.

From June 15, there will be three new infringement offences to enforce existing harm minimisation regulations, including branding and advertising requirements. Breaches will become an offence with an infringement fee of NZ$1,000.

From September 1, new requirements will focus on problem gambling awareness training for staff. There will be mandatory sessions on interacting with gamblers, identifying signs of harm and providing information on seeking help. 

From December 1, new venue layout requirements will be enforced, requiring the ability for staff to easily monitor ATMs from the main bar or service area. Gaming machines must not be visible from outside of venues.

Regular sweeps must be conducted at least three times per hour while gambling areas are operating, and signs of gambling harm will be recorded. Venue managers will be responsible for reviewing the records every week. Furthermore, staff involved in supervising gambling will receive annual training to better address harmful gambling behaviours. 

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

“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. 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.”

Last year, the government announced a NZ$76m (US$47.9m) investment for a new strategy aimed at preventing and minimising gambling harm-related issues.

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