Opponents outraged by online Lotto

Last updated 09:20 29/03/2008

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An anti-gambling group has joined the Green Party in berating the Government for allowing online Lotto sales.

Internal Affairs Minister Rick Barker said yesterday Lotto, Powerball, Strike, Big Wednesday and Keno would be sold via the internet.

Mr Barker said several safeguards would be put in place to help users gamble responsibly.

Players would be required to register online, would be limited to one account and would be required to set their own weekly and monthly spending limits, which could not be exceeded.

But that did not satisfy the Greens or the Problem Gambling Foundation.

"What the Government is proposing is to allow people who are very poor and beneficiaries to buy lottery products on their credit cards online in the dark," foundation chief executive John Stansfield told TV3.

He called it irresponsible.

Green Party MP Sue Bradford said it was "reprehensible" the Government was launching a whole new gaming initiative online.

She said problem gambling was hurting New Zealanders and the move went against the aim of the 2003 Gambling Act.

"Online gaming is aimed directly at a group of people who are very vulnerable to potential gambling harm - those who are often quite lonely and spend a lot of time on their computers without a lot of other social interactions," Ms Bradford said.

NZ Lotteries chief executive Todd McLeay said overseas lotteries had been selling their games online successfully for many years. However, based on their experiences, retail stores would remain the most important sales channel into the future.

He said tickets should be available online within the next couple of months.

- NZPA

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