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Operational Update #4 from the Department of Internal Affairs

1 May 2020

Operation of gambling venues under COVID-19 Alert Level 2

This update relates to the operation of casino and class 4 gambling venues under COVID-19 Alert Level 2 conditions. It should be read alongside and is subject to any guidance provided by the Ministry of Health for public venues for Alert Level 2.

This operational update applies if the Government decides to move New Zealand to Alert Level 2. It is based on current Level 2 guidance provided on the Government’s COVID-19 website and is subject to change.

We expect the Government will announce whether to move out of Level 3 on 11 May 2020.

At this stage, the COVID-19 related public health guidance that we consider to be most relevant to gambling venues is as follows:

  • Physical distancing of 1 metre outside the home.
  • Gatherings of up to 100 people indoors and 500 outdoors allowed while maintaining physical distancing and contact tracing requirements.
  • Public venues can open but must comply with conditions on gatherings and undertake public health measures.

Advice on ‘public health measures’ can be found on the Ministry of Health’s COVID-19 website.

Gambling and venue operators need to decide how best to comply with these requirements - each situation and venue is different. For example, complying with physical distancing requirements may require the disabling of some gaming machines at a venue in order to ensure that players are 1 metre apart. Similarly, complying with the limits on gatherings will be more challenging for some venues than others.

The government, like the rest of the world, is learning more about COVID-19 everyday. It is important for operators and venues to stay in touch with developments and to monitor changing guidance from the relevant agencies.

Usual Gambling Act processes will apply to venue changes

We are anticipating and preparing for an increase in the number of proposals involving the disabling or movement of gaming machines and casino tables. As per usual process, these proposals require prior approval from the Department for class 4 gambling, or from the Gambling Commission for casinos.

It is our intention to review and process these proposals as quickly as possible and we’re currently looking at changes we can make (including additional resourcing and more efficient processes) to do so.

How to contact us

The Gambling Group now has a dedicated email address for external stakeholder enquiries. To ensure we respond to you as quickly as possible – and if you have specific questions about this update - please email us at gambling@dia.govt.nz

Lisa Docherty

Director Gambling Regulatory System

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