Offshore gambling sites are having a field day in New Zealand. At least 13 of these sites are using New Zealand website addresses while one is using the New Zealand coat of arms. These sites use “.nz” web addresses but are not based in the country because of which they easily circumvent the nation’s gambling laws.
The Department of Internal Affairs (DIA) believes that these companies are cashing in on the country’s image of a well-regulated gambling market. It also thinks that these sites could be run by criminal organizations. The DIA has contacted the hosting providers of these websites to remove them completely, said director of regulatory systems (gambling)
“One of the sites we contacted was brazen enough to use the government’s official Coat of Arms. We can only presume this was done to suggest some sort of formal connection with the New Zealand government or our local gambling laws,” he said. The department also believes that one of the sites could be operated from within New Zealand. If their investigations prove this to be true, the site will have to face legal hurdles.
Only two companies- TAB and Only Lotto are approved to run gambling products online in the country. This permission was given on the condition that they will redirect a portion of their collection to community groups.
The DIA may not be able to do much to other websites. They may ask for the removal of the coat of arms and ask the hosting providers to remove the sites, but that is where their authority ends. According to current laws, New Zealanders can legally play on sites based outside of the country.
However, the DIA is concerned about the safety of the users on these unregulated sites. Thornborough said these operations are based in under-regulated or unregulated places and criminal organizations could be using them to cheat people out of their money or use their contact information to hack identities. These rogue websites may have zero chances of punters winning a game.
The New Zealand-based gambling businesses, on the other hand, are heavily regulated. The country’s Lotto ensures that players have a chance to win and each ball is checked every 10 draws in size and weight to ensure that there are no frauds. The online sites are operating offshore work without any restrictions or tax implications.