Christchurch Casino Goes Online, Sparks Concerns

Christchurch Casino’s plans to launch an online casino do not sit well with gambling safety activists in New Zealand. While the local casino company lacks a license to operate online gaming in the country, people in New Zealand are legally permitted to play with offshore brands.

Christchurch Casino Goes Digital

Christchurch Casino will establish an online presence under the Christchurchcasino.com domain. The new online gambling site will be Malta-based and is expected to launch by the end of 2022. It will allow fans of Christchurch Casino to take their engagement online.

As per Christchurch Casino’s announcement, the operator will work together with another international gaming company to be able to quickly grow its online presence. The casino operator’s decision to explore the online vertical was sparked by the insane growth of online gambling and the gradual decline of brick-and-mortar venues.

However, not everyone is happy about the upcoming launch of Christchurch Casino’s site.

The Offshore Subsidiary Will Likely Target Locals

Problem gambling safety activists in New Zealand are concerned about the launch of the new gambling site. While Christchurch Casino is an esteemed land-based casino company in the country, only Lotto NZ and TAB can offer online gambling. Worryingly, Christchurch Casino seems to be trying to bypass these rules by launching a Malta-based subsidiary.

New Zealand’s rules on offshore gambling prohibit sites from offering online gambling if they do not have a license. However, the rules do not prohibit players from playing with offshore operators at their own risk. Christchurch Casino’s online subsidiary may therefore surreptitiously target people in New Zealand who will be familiar with the parent brand and are likely to give its online offerings a try.

This move mirrors SkyCity’s decision to launch a Malta-based site in 2019.

Activists Unconvinced by Christchurch Casino’s Promise to Protect Players

While Christchurch Casino’s chair, Bruce Robertson, promised that the new site will come equipped with all the necessary responsible gambling tools, gambling safety activists remain concerned about an unregulated site targeting New Zealand’s market.  Bridgitte​ Thornley, national director of Problem Gambling Foundation Services, said that she is disappointed about the new site. She pointed out that Christchurch Casino is a recognized brand, which would lead people to think that Christchurchcasino.com is a reliable and licensed site.

In addition, many activists believe that online gambling tends to be more harmful since it can be done in secret. Auckland University associate professor Maria Bellringer pointed out that unlicensed sites rarely have satisfactory safeguards to protect people from harm.

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