New Zealand Lotto to Launch Online Bingo amid Opposition

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Lotto, the state-owned lottery supplier in New Zealand, will hold a tender to appoint an official company to run the company’s online bingo platform, which should launch by mid-2022.

Online Bingo Coming to New Zealand

As Lotto New Zealand prepares to roll out in the online bingo segment, many have objected to the introduction of the game, styling it as a high-risk form of gambling. Facing criticism, the stated-owned lottery company has to prove otherwise.

It will reach out to established names in the bingo industry via a public tender. Then, the most qualified entity will develop and launch a product by mid-2022. With natives already visiting offshore sites to participate in online bingo, the company is keen on securing the market.

Besides, Lotto already has experience with online sales, as 35% of its revenue comes from online purchases. However, Lotto cannot expect smooth sailing from here now in. The Problem Gambling Foundation (PGF) has requested from Lotto to present a detailed list of the planned responsible gambling measures the company was preparing to introduce.

Specifically, PGF asked how Lotto New Zealand was planning to shield the Pasifika community from the pernicious ramifications of problem gambling. Director Andree Froude cautioned that bingo can be just as addictive as slot machines. Froude further dismissed Lotto’s own claim that bingo was a medium risk game.

One of the main objections in Froude’s position was the nature of bingo, describing it as a “continuous” title. Just like pokie machines allow you to push a button and get results, so does bingo allows you to engage with the gameplay, Froude explained.

Lotto Is a Force for Good

However, the University of Auckland’s School of Population Health addiction expert professor Peter Adams has argued that Lotto’s commitment to the gambling market has led to normalization, reducing harm and boosting player-protection measures.

Adams argued that gambling can generate funds for communities and ultimately generates societal goods. However, a popular objection remains that the Pasifika community may be ill-affected, as it uses bingo for fundraising opportunities.

Moving bingo online could both lead to addiction as well as deprive the community of its source of revenue for various social activities. Yet, one successful example was cited in the United Kingdom. With bingo shifting online, there was a huge increase in the revenue generated by the game.

PGF head Paula Snowden though is unwilling to let the issue go. She has been discussing the potential risks stemming from the digitalization of bingo with Lotto. Snowden is concerned about gambling harm and wants assurances. She has already brought up a call for a “constructive review” of the entire industry.

Lotto’s Head of Communications & Corporate Social Responsibility Marie Winfield assured that the company will focus on improving its digital product as well as provide residents with safe gambling options.

Winfield explained that some 280,000 New Zealand players are already playing offshore. That is all the more reason to seek regulated alternatives, she added. Should Lotto take over the segment, it would introduce a number of safety mechanisms.

That includes spending limits, age verification, and session limits. Lotto is yet to launch a bingo product. Even with slight opposition, the state-owned lottery firm should have no issue proceeding according to plan.

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