NZ Faces Issue with False Gambling URLs

Tisha Walden | 23 Apr 2019

False gambling urlNew Zealand has recently been dealing with the issue of international gaming sites attracting Kiwi players, but the operators are trying a devious approach to attract bettors. There are currently at least 13 international sites using NZ addresses according to authorities, and at least one of the brands has been brazen enough to use the country’s official coat of arms! This is being done to make the sites appear more legitimate than they are to unsuspecting players.

The sites are registered as NZ domains, but none are actually run from inside the country, meaning they are not subject to the strict gambling regulations in place. This leaves players unprotected and with no recourse to seek damages if something goes awry. Additionally, given that these sites are allegedly being run by criminal organisations, the chances of something going wrong are very high.

The DIA Weighs In

A statement released by the Department of Internal Affairs revealed that they have already reached out to the website hosting these providers asking that they be taken down. The DIA Director of Regulatory Systems, Chris Thornborough, said that the brand making use of the official coat of arms for the government was likely doing so in order to suggest a formal connection with the government and to imply that local gambling laws were being adhered to.

Although the majority of the sites look likely to be based internationally, at least one could be located inside New Zealand, says Thornborough. If this turns out to be the case, the operator will face serious criminal charges. There isn’t much that the DIA can do about the others, however, apart from trying to get providers to take them down.

Player Safety Is at Risk

It’s not that it’s illegal for Kiwis to spend time at international sites, but regulators are not able to provide any oversight of these portals, causing the DIA to be concerned about consumer safety. Thornborough explained that these kinds of operators can exist in under-regulated or non-regulated places and could further possibly be run by criminal organisations. Their goal could be to cheat players’ out of their money or even hack identities!

Under current regulations, anyone can purchase an NZ domain, but this may not be the case for much longer. There is talk of New Zealand adopting a policy similar to Australia’s, which necessitates anyone requesting an AU domain to provide legal or physical proof of address in that country.