If the New Zealand Labour Party gets into power in the next general election, offshore gambling operators beware; the party has promised that a crackdown on internet gambling is among its priorities.
Labour MP Ross Robertson told local media this week that legislative steps would be taken to stem the flow of an estimated NZ$300 to NZ$400 million spent by New Zealand online punters on offshore sites that escape domestic taxes and levies.
“That particular sum is conservative. I would estimate it’s probably double that, and if that can be used for working with the industry to increase stakes, then that’s got to be good for the industry,” Robertson said, adding that the law change would raise an extra NZ$20 million in tax a year.
The New Zealand Racing Board was quick to support Robertson, welcoming his commitment to tackle the issue of offshore betting, whilst the government’s Racing Minister, Nathan Guy, said the issue was now a priority, and his team intend to work closely with the racing industry to look for practical solutions to the problem after the election.
New Zealand Racing Board Chair Glenda Hughes said the amount of betting cash flowing to offshore websites was increasing, and now constitutes a major threat to New Zealand’s racing industry.
“We have long called for measures to level the playing field and ensure the racing industry sees a benefit from their investment,” she said Friday.
“We have been working with the current government on this issue and we are pleased that both these political parties now see the need to take action.”
The racing industry boasts that it plays a critical role in the New Zealand economy, contributing NZ$1.6 billion to GDP – on par with the seafood and wine industries – and employs over 17,000 New Zealanders.