Hospitality Business Magazine

New gambling rules clearer, stronger & more enforceable

Government changes to strengthen harm minimisation requirements, including stronger infringement penalties for venues with pokie machines, have been welcomed by the hospitality sector.

Announcing the changes, Internal Affairs Minister, Jan Tinetti said the changes focus on reducing harm caused by pokies, which can affect both those people gambling and their families.

“In short, they would make the ‘host responsibility’ requirements on pokie venues clearer, stronger, and more enforceable.”

The changes to pokies harm minimisation regulations will include:

  • Mandatory annual training for all staff dealing with gamblers, ensuring that staff in gambling (pokies) venues are better trained.
  • New requirements around the steps venues must follow to identify harmful gambling, such as regular sweeps and recording signs of gambling harm.
  • Two new rules around venue design that will support harm minimisation by ensuring that staff can better monitor ATMs, and pokie machines are less visible.
  • A range of new infringement offences to help penalise those who fail to comply with harm minimisation regulations.

“I expect that the new harm minimisation regulations for pokies will be in place in the first half of 2023.

“Pokies are known to be the most harmful form of land-based gambling in Aotearoa, so I’m really pleased we are making progress with strengthening the harm minimisation rules.

“These changes will help make sure that pokies venues are identifying and acting upon harmful gambling consistently and more often.

“They have been designed to be realistic to implement for the Class 4 gambling sector. I have also asked that the Department of Internal Affairs work with sector representatives, where appropriate, on some of the implementation details of the changes.

“I want to thank everyone who provided their feedback on the public discussion document. The submissions were invaluable in developing and informing the final changes.” Internal Affairs Minister Jan Tinetti said.

Host care & responsibility in our DNA

“It’s important that the crafting of the regulations is fit for purpose operationally,” says Hospitality New Zealand Chief Executive, Julie White. “The last thing we want is more regulation for regulation’s sake.

“We also welcome the full review of the Gaming Act with specific attention to the promised crackdown on online gaming, because it’s hidden and that’s where the most damage is done,” says Julie White, CEO HNZ.

“Hospitality NZ is willing to start work immediately with the Department of Internal Affairs on these new regulations because it’s important all the rules reduce gambling harm.

“We strongly support any moves to reduce harm caused by problem gambling, so we see most of today’s changes for class 4 venues as positive.

“Our members represent 75% of class 4 operators, and to truly address harm minimisation it’s important we have the right tools – such as resources and training – at the right time, for the right people for both those who work in the venues and for problem gamblers.

“Host care and responsibility is in our DNA, so we welcome mandatory training for staff to deal with gamblers, requirements for regular checks to identify harmful gambling, and new infringement offences for venues that don’t comply with the regulations.

“Hospitality NZ, in conjunction with the Gaming Machine Association of NZ, has developed and delivered nationwide harm minimisation training and it’s great that has been picked up and acknowledged by the Government.

Harm Minimisation Nationwide Qualification

“Taking that further, Hospitality NZ is currently working on developing a nationwide qualification for staff on harm minimisation, and we hope to be able to roll this out next year.

“Because our members typically face labour shortages and high turnover, it’s imperative this type of training is ongoing, and that’s what we’re working on. We’re hoping it will also help venues attract and retain staff.”

White said today’s move to strengthen sanctions was a particularly good one.

“Current settings are not fit for purpose and don’t work, and we believe there should be suspensions that close venues for a number of days. They are a very effective way to enforce good practices.

“Fines, which can currently be argued, appealed, and delayed, must be able to be instantly applied and of a fair quantum to be effective.  And repeat offenders should face harsher outcomes.

“But more clarity is needed on venue design, because we need to be sure it really does help to reduce harm.

“We also welcome the full review of the Gaming Act with specific attention to the promised crackdown on online gaming, because it’s hidden and that’s where the most damage is done.”

A summary of submissions on the public discussion document is now available at