Lotto New Zealand has been internationally endorsed for its commitment to responsible gaming.

The accolade comes amid controversy about funding cuts to counselling services for problem gamblers.

Now the World Lottery Association (WLA) has officially certified Lotto New Zealand as having a responsible programme with strong planning, development and implementation of responsible gaming initiatives.

Lotto New Zealand received the Level Three WLA certification after a review by an independent assessment panel focused on corporate social responsibility.


WLA certifies international lotteries on a four-level system. Each programme is assessed on 10 core elements: research, employee education, retailer training and support, game design, online gaming, advertising and marketing, player education, treatment referral, stakeholder engagement, and reporting and measurement.

The endorsement follows The Problem Gambling Foundation receiving notice that its services will no longer be funded from June onwards. The contract has been handed to The Salvation Army.

Psychologist Dr Peter Adams, who chaired the board of the Problem Gambling Foundation from 1997 to 2002, said the agency sought people with "political nous'' because "that's where the action is''.

"The gambling industry is very highly politicised. We can't have someone who is just 'business as usual' because in this area it's never business as usual,'' he said.

He said the agency was founded to support problem gamblers and felt obliged to speak out for them.

He told Radio New Zealand this morning he had been threatened by a government official who said he would try to ruin his career.

"There were multiple attempts to split up the organisation.'' he said.

Associate Health Minister Peter Dunne said Mr Adams' claim was "utter rubbish''.

Mr Dunne defended the cut of funding to the Problem Gambling Foundation this morning on Radio New Zealand.

He said it is not up to the Government to pay for an advocacy service opposed to the gambling industry.

"We were tendering for service delivery to deal with the seven thousand-odd cases of problem gambling that come across the table every year.

"What these groups are talking about is something entirely different: a voice for problem gambling. We were actually talking about treating those people who suffer from problem gambling addictions.''

Mr Dunne said both the number of pokies, and the money spent on gambling, is falling.

- additional reporting by Simon Collins of the NZ Herald