Government consulting on reducing pokies harm

Thu 14 Apr 2022

The Government is seeking feedback on changes to pokies regulations to reduce harm.

The Department of Internal Affairs (DIA) is leading the consultation.

The closing date to make a submission is 28 April 2022.

The Government is seeking public feedback on options for changes to the pokies (Class 4) Gambling (Harm Prevention and Minimisation) Regulations 2004.

Data from the 2020 Health and Lifestyles Survey indicates that about 10 percent of New Zealanders play pokies, with one in five players considered to be at-risk from gambling harm. In announcing the review, Internal Affairs Minister Jan Tinetti said pokies are the most harmful form of gambling in Aotearoa New Zealand, saying “Harmful pokies gambling accounts for the majority of referrals to gambling treatment providers, and for much of the second-hand gambling harm experienced by a gambler’s whānau and friends.”

She went on to say:

“Gambling harm tends to affect those who can least afford it and may already be experiencing social or financial challenges. This includes our Māori and Pacific communities. Gambling can not only lead to debt, but financial hardship, family violence, relationship strain and difficulties sustaining employment, among other harms.

“We encourage any community or individual who wishes to get involved with the review to have their say, by providing feedback and ideas on the proposed changes.

“We have the chance to create serious change. Feedback from public consultation in addition to harm treatment providers, societies and gambling venues will help us create regulations informed by gamblers, their whānau and friends, and people who work with those experiencing harm.”

The discussion document for the review outlines three focus areas with questions for each area:

"Part 1: Reducing harm in venues (identifying and responding to signs of harmful gambling, and better staff training)

Part 2: Reducing harm from pokie machines (changes to machine features that could make them safer)

Part 3: Reducing harm through stronger compliance (penalties and enforcement)."

DIA has provided a submission form. Submissions can be emailed to or posted to:

Gambling Policy Team
Department of Internal Affairs
PO Box 805
Wellington 6140

This work aligns with the Government’s current Strategy to Prevent and Minimise Gambling Harm 2022/23 to 2024/25 and is one of several areas of work to reduce harm from gambling in Aotearoa New Zealand.

For more information on pokies see DIA's website on Gambling in Pubs and Clubs (Class 4).

Research has shown there are links between gambling and family violence. For more information search our library under the topic problem gambling.

Update: In November 2022, Internal Affairs Minister Jan Tinetti announced changes to strengthen the requirements in venues which have pokie (gambling) machines to reduce the harm they cause people.

Update: The Government announced new regulations the Gambling Harm Prevention and Minimisation Amendment Regulations 2023 to strengthen gambling harm minimisation in class 4 venues following the consultation. For an overview of the changes see Te Tari Taiwhenua | Department of Internal Affairs announcement in June 2023 about the Updated Legislation to Minimise Gambling Harm and the Beehive media release Government delivers changes to reduce pokies harm.

Related media

Government invests to minimise gambling harm, Beehive Media Release, 27.06.2022

Pokies sucked more than $8 million out of this small Waikato district in a year, Stuff, 17.04.2022

Pokies ‘legislated waste of money’, Gisborne Herald, 30.03.2022

Kiwis Spent Over $2.6 Billion On Gambling In The 2020/21 Financial Year, Press Release: Problem Gambling Foundation, Scoop, 18.03.2022

Māori encouraged to submit on pokies review, Waatea News, 18.03.2022

Pokie machines review to help Pasifika gambling support groups, PMN News, 18.03.2022

Pokies under fire as rules review kicks off, Te Ao Māori News, 17.03.2022

Image: Darya Sannikova from Pexels

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