The organisers of Whangarei's Beach and Boat Fishing Competition are delighted there are no longer hooks attached to major spot prizes at the southern hemisphere's biggest snapper contest.
Tony Wheeler welcomed yesterday's announcement that unnecessary red tape would be slashed from the rules around spot-prize draws if there was a demonstrated community benefit or when a spot prize was not the main purpose of the event.
Mr Wheeler said the Marsden Point-based Beach and Boat competition could now step up a notch by offering even bigger and better bait - two boats at a total value of $90,000 are already lined up as spot prizes for 2014.
Last summer's event had a cloud over it because of the need for Gambling Act licences, other complications and the ensuing negative publicity when it seemed one of its big lures was in doubt: "As a professional organiser, it made planning the event stressful because you really want to do the best for the sponsors and the local community."
The Department of Internal Affairs last year said big competitions that offered spot prizes based on luck, rather than skill, breached gambling laws.
But Minister of Internal Affairs Chris Tremain promised organisers of big-prize events such as fun-runs and fishing competitions he would consider loosening the rules that classified random spot prizes as gambling.
"Public consultation on our discussion document showed the rules are too restrictive and the paperwork required onerous. Gambling is not the primary purpose of these events, so all these regulations are not required," Mr Tremain said this week.
The new rules will be in place in time for summer events this year.