New Zealand Lottery Faces Mounting Pressure Over Children Buying Tickets

Posted on: September 12, 2022, 07:16h. 

Last updated on: September 12, 2022, 03:42h.

Officials in New Zealand are coming under scrutiny amid charges they’re not doing enough to keep minors from buying lottery products despite increasing global concern about responsible gaming.

New Zealand Lotto
A kiosk displays New Zealand Lotto products. The revelation that children as young as seven years old have bought tickets is likely to bring changes to the industry. (Image: Retail Dimension)

Children as young as seven can buy lottery tickets in New Zealand. Keno, Bullseye, and other gambling options are readily available. The only exception is Instant Kiwi, which has a minimum age of 18. Almost everywhere else around the world, the minimum age is 18. Australia is one exception, allowing 16-year-olds to buy certain gambling products.

The revelation surfaced following a study conducted by the Auckland University of Technology’s Gambling and Addictions Research Centre, according to media outlet RNZ. The department’s director, Maria Bellringer, led the research whose results are likely to force changes.

The study focused on the country’s gambling habits of around 900 Pasifika 9-year-old children. It found that 7% of them, at some point, had purchased a ticket for New Zealand’s Lotto draw. Previous studies have shown that gambling before 13 increases the risk of problem gambling.

Shocking Revelations

Bellinger pointed out that almost anyone can buy a Lotto ticket in the country because there is no legal age restriction. She emphasized that most people participate without issues, but allowing children to gamble is different.

I was absolutely gobsmacked that a 7-year-old, or 10-year-old, could walk into a Lotto outlet and purchase a Lotto ticket,” said Problem Gambling Foundation spokesperson Andree Froude.

She says that allowing them to buy a ticket goes too far in normalizing the activity from a young age. In addition, it doesn’t foster a sense of responsibility and an appreciation of the gambling aspect of the lottery.

Lotto’s Hands Are Tied

RNZ spoke to Lotto CEO Chris Lyman about the lack of an age restriction. He pointed out that it would accept a minimum age similar to the ones in other countries. However, the company cannot legally make the change under New Zealand law.

The Gambling Act included the minimum age of 18 in the language when it created the Instant Kiwi brand of products. Everything else remains exempt, according to Lyman. He emphasized that New Zealand will have to change its gambling laws if it wants to alter the age requirements.

That could be coming sooner rather than later. Internal Affairs Minister Jan Tinetti told RNZ that the government is now addressing the concern. However, she didn’t say when it will make its decision.