Lotto branches out with cyber-ticket sales

By Craig Borley

Lotto has introduced an online version, expected to generate more than $7 million in revenue in its first year.

New Zealand Lotteries' MyLotto website went online yesterday morning, and had had 1100 registered users by 6 o'clock last night.

The site's income is expected to increase steadily as the new service took hold in New Zealand, NZ Lotteries chief executive Todd McLeay said yesterday.

The site, developed over the past year at a cost of several million dollars, would keep up with changing consumer patterns and make it easier for infrequent Lotto buyers to purchase tickets, he said.

But the move has drawn strong criticism from Problem Gambling Foundation chief executive John Stansfield, who told the Herald the Government-approved move was staggering because of current financial pressures.

"I can't imagine what kind of responsible government wants to increase people's spend on gambling in a down-turning economy," he said.

Mr McLeay said yesterday concerns over MyLotto's potential to increase problem gambling had been addressed.

Weekly and monthly spending caps had been built into the site, users could voluntarily nominate spending caps of their own choosing and could exclude themselves from games for a time - a move they could not then reverse.

NZ Lotteries would also contact players who were spending to the limits consecutively over four months, offering them "relevant information".

But Mr Stansfield said these did not go far enough.

"They can wax on all they want about how the fox has set up a perfectly safe hen-house."

While lottery gambling was known to be less destructive than instant-gratification gambling, NZ Lotteries was the biggest spenders in advertising gambling as "how you get ahead in life".

"And this is internet gambling. That is what has been approved. And we've got families up and down the country suffering from this."

Mr McLeay said a return on the large investment in the service would be seen at a commercial rate of return, in line with commercial best practise.

Despite the site's expected use, traditional lotto retailers were unlikely to suffer, he said.

"They're well educated on these sorts of things, and some retailers have seen the internet affect their businesses already. They understand the need to adapt to changing patterns."

Similar overseas services had not left traditional retailers out of pocket, he said.

- NZ Herald

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