Covid-19: Information for the gambling sector

Covid-19: Information for the gambling sector

Updated: 21 April 2020

We know there are likely to be a range of impacts on the nature and volume of gambling activity in New Zealand arising from COVID-19. These may create issues or uncertainty for some providers.

We are communicating with industry representatives about interim changes to how regulated parties are expected to comply with the Gambling Act, during this time. Those industry updates will be made available from this page.

FAQs for some of the common questions we’re receiving are also being added and updated as needed.

If you have specific queries not answered below contact us via email gambling.compliance@dia.govt.nz

21 April: COVID-19 relief measures for clubs

  • Temporary extension of the scope of authorised purpose to include general expenses, to help support staff and ‘keep the lights on’. The percentage of funds allocated to the authorised purpose remains unchanged. (Update 3)

7 April: Exercising leniency in relation to Regulations 10 and 11

  • details about temporary changes (for an initial period of 12 weeks) to regulations governing the administration of community return. (Update 2)

27 March: Easing financial and regulatory pressures for C4 sector

  • Short term measures to provide the C4 sector with some relief from financial and regulatory pressures and ensure that appropriate regulatory oversight continues. These measures relate broadly to fees and licencing. (Update 1)

Class 4 FAQs

Cash-in Ticket-out: what about tickets that expire?

Updated: Monday 6 April

Some Class 4 venues operate a cash-in ticket-out system where gaming machines print redeemable tickets instead of dispensing money.

Minimum standards for cash-in ticket-out provide that, 7 days after it is issued, a ticket can no longer be redeemed at the venue that issued it.

An unpaid ticket may only be redeemed by applying to the relevant corporate society. This should be done within three months from the date of issue or the ticket is void and can no longer be redeemed.

In response to the COVID-19 lockdown, if a society decides to redeem unpaid tickets that become void, the Department will not consider it a breach of the minimum standards for cash-in ticket-out.

Will I have to surrender a venue licence if closed for 4 weeks?

Closure due to COVID-19 will not result in venue licence surrenders.

The Secretary of Internal Affairs has determined that the section 71(1)(g) requirement to surrender licences will not apply to class 4 venues while they are closed as part of the national COVID-19 response.

Section 71(1)(g) of the Gambling Act provides that, if class 4 gambling has not been conducted at a venue for a period of more than 4 weeks venue licence must be surrendered, unless the Secretary agrees that the venue may remain inactive for a further specified period.

What do C4 clubs and societies need to know about renewing their operator’s licence?

The only thing that clubs and societies need to do is apply for renewal of their operator’s licence – an email saying something along the lines of Please accept this email as application for renewal of xxx operator’s license (due xxx date) is sufficient.

The application doesn’t have to be complete as further detail can be provided later.

Existing venue licences will be automatically extended – no action is required from clubs or societies.

New venue and operator licences will automatically be extended.

Given venues are closed, can I turn off all machines?

Yes you can, however the Site Controllers must be left on.

The continued operation of the site controller will allow the Department to monitor compliance with the national shutdown order. You will not be charged for EMS monitoring while the gaming machines are inactive.

What if I haven’t been able to bank gaming machine profits (GMP)?

The Gambling (Class 4 Banking) Regulations require gaming machine profit (GMP) to be banked by venues within 5 working days of the date that GMP was calculated.

This advice is directed at venue managers who have not been able to bank GMP as required by the regulations.

While banks continue to be open in some areas, we understand if venue managers are reluctant to expose themselves or their staff to COVID-19 contamination during the period of the national shutdown.

If venue managers consider that they are unable to bank GMP safely, they are asked to follow these steps:

  • Secure the money separately from other business takings until such time as you consider that it can be banked safely
  • Contact your society to advise them that GMP will not be banked and advise them of the amount being held.

During the period that venues are subject to compulsory closure, as long as the money is held securely, the Department will not consider a failure to bank GMP as a breach of the Banking Regulations.

What is the best way to contact the department if I have a question?

This webpage is the primary source of information regarding the Department’s response to the Gambling Sector in relation to COVID-19.

Questions can be sent to gambling.compliance@dia.govt.nz

Class 1-3 FAQs – community groups’ fundraising

When the COVID-19 alert level system was established, a number of community groups will have been about to start, or were part-way through, fundraising through the sale of raffle tickets and other forms of gambling. The following information is intended to address any questions you may have about the future of that fundraising.

Can we start a raffle?

If you have not started selling tickets, you must not start.

If the tickets are already printed, the dates specified for the sale of tickets and the draw or determination of the outcome will be incorrect. The Department doesn’t require you to reprint the tickets, but you should make the new dates clear to purchasers when you are able to start selling tickets again.

What happens if we have started?

Sales of tickets must stop immediately, even if you are part way through selling tickets.

The organiser should ask sellers to report to the organiser on their sales so far, including the number of tickets and the money collected, by phone or email. The organiser should ask sellers to secure the money until it can be collected or safely banked.

Can I sell my tickets online?

The prohibition on remote interactive gambling remains in place. Ticket sales cannot be sold using a communication device (e.g. phone or internet).

What happens about Housie?

All Housie sessions must close while NZ is at Alert Level 4.  We will continue to update you if the situation changes.

What if the draw date needs to change?

If the draw date is changed, the tickets do not need to be reprinted, but when sales recommence purchasers should be advised of the new date (either at the point of purchase or via the Internet).

What should happen if prizes become unavailable?

Sometimes, the raffle or other gambling cannot be completed due to the effect of COVID-19. The prize may become unavailable, for example the prize:

  • may be tickets to an event that’s been cancelled
  • contains perishable items such as food.

If the prize has become unavailable for any reason, all efforts should be made to return the cost of the tickets to those who purchased the tickets, when it is safe to do so.

What happens when the alert level reduces?

This will depend on decisions by the Government. Organisers should not start organising the selling of tickets again until further notice. If tickets were already printed (with dates that have become incorrect) the Department doesn’t require you to reprint the tickets, but the new dates should be made clear to purchasers when you are able to start selling tickets again.

Organisers must advise ticket buyers what the new arrangements will be regarding the draw.

What do I need to do if I have revised our arrangement?

Licenced class 3 operators must contact the Department to advise of new closure dates, any prize changes and changes to draw dates. This will allow the Department to amend their licence details.

Contact us by email at  gambling.compliance@dia.govt.nz

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