Raj Krishnan, Director Gambling Compliance
As we come to the close of 2015, it is a great opportunity for me to take a moment to reflect on what has been a significant year for the Class 4 sector.
There is much to reflect on! This year we had the passing of the Gambling Amendment Bills (No2) and (No3). It’s great to have this legislation in place. We also welcomed the Milestone Foundation to the sector, the first new Class 4 society licensed since 2013. And of particular significance, in October Internal Affairs Minister Peter Dunne announced a number of decisions affecting the Class 4 sector; this included the Government’s decision on gambling fee changes, the recently completed consultation on the Minimum Rate of Return, and a review of the Class 4 sector.
At the Regional Sector Forums in November, I introduced the Regulator’s Vision and Objectives for the Class 4 sector. One of these objectives is to ‘foster collaboration and partnership with and across the gambling sector’ and, on looking back over the year, I feel this is an area where we can feel positive about the progress we have made.
At the forums we heard that many of you feel there has been a change in the way we work together. I heard, more than once, that this is a different relationship than 10, or even five, years ago. We all benefit from this. This year we have seen reduced litigation across the sector as we have worked together through issues. There have been great examples of collaboration in the sector this year; the working party has achieved some positive results through its work on the Class 4 game rules and the sector’s contribution to the venue payments work has been crucial.
The Health Promotion Agency’s Venues Initiative is a great example of how partnership and collaboration can work for the benefit of us all. This initiative aims to help venue staff more easily meet their gambling host responsibility requirements and phase one of this initiative, the Gamble Host packs, was rolled out at the November forums. We were delighted to work alongside the HPA on this initiative and I have been impressed with the collaborative approach HPA undertook in working with not only us and the Ministry of Health, but also venue staff and societies. I am confident these resources will help venue staff be more confident in knowing when and how to intervene with gamblers they are concerned about. I’m looking forward to seeing the new material in venues.
Minimising harm from gambling is an area where we need to be working together. I look forward to this continuing in phase two of the initiative in 2016.
At the sector forums I shared an important quote from Minister Dunne’s HANZ conference speech in October : “The challenge is to ensure that we have a trusted, sustainable, fit-for-purpose regulatory environment for gambling that is able to meet the challenges that lie ahead.” This is quite a challenge, and one that relies on us continuing this way of working.
It is important for us all to reflect on the benefits the Class 4 sector provides to New Zealand. Some examples of Class 4 non-club grants this year include community groups receiving grants for youth development which will provide increased opportunities for young New Zealanders; a conservation trust receiving $300,000 which will result in greater protection for native species; and a Coastal Walkway Environmental Trust receiving $951,876 for a coastal walkway that will be an asset for the community.
The grant distribution process is complex, and I recognise the hard work that goes into this. Looking ahead to 2016, this is an area where I think we can work together to look at how we maximise the benefits to communities. We can also look at how we can better tell the story about the impact these grants have on New Zealand communities.
As I said, 2015 was a significant year for the Class 4 sector, and I thank you for your efforts. I look forward to continuing to work with you in 2016, a year which I am sure will be just as significant.
I wish you all a wonderful Christmas and a restful break.