New Zealand’s Official Betting Agency Embroiled in Counterfeit Controversy
New Zealand’s official government-sanctioned betting board, the TAB, has become embroiled in a counterfeit cash conspiracy after allegedly paying out a customer with fake notes. The TAB is run by the New Zealand Racing Board, which has a statutory monopoly on sports betting in the country.
On January 3rd, bettor Bruce Gasson was lucky enough to win NZ$680 on a horse race at Rangiora Harness Racing Club. However, Gasson claims that after getting home he discovered that two of the NZ$100 notes looked suspicious. A closer inspection revealed that the notes were in fact counterfeit, but they looked authentic enough that they wouldn’t be questioned unless carefully examined.
Naturally, Gasson was shocked by the discovery and quickly contacted the TAB to report the issue and receive compensation. Unfortunately, after contacting the TAB, Gasson was told that there was nothing they could really do about it and would only consider a reimbursement if the police intervened.
Gasson says he received no help from the police either, despite them visiting his residence and confirming that the notes were fake. Eventually, he was forced to contact the media about the issue in the hope that potential bad press would instigate action from the TAB. When learning about the situation from Gasson, local media outlet ‘Stuff’ contacted the TAB for comment. As a result, the TAB eventually agreed to refund Mr Gasson the NZ$200 but did not make any further comment on the situation.
TAB push to Tax International Operators
The controversy brings into question the TAB’s monopoly on gambling in New Zealand, particularly considering its recent push to force internationally licensed online gambling operators to pay taxes. The reasoning behind the TABs monopoly on gambling in the country is presumably to ensure that issues like counterfeit notes are avoided. The TAB suggests that offshore casinos and gambling operators may not pay out their customers – an ironic situation considering its refusal to compensate Mr Gasson.
Some argue that the TAB uses antiquated technology that is prone to mistakes, while its competitors use modern online technology better suited to today’s clientele. Despite the TAB having a gambling monopoly in New Zealand, many Kiwi citizens play at online platforms that host a range of electronic casino games, referred to as online pokies in New Zealand.
TAB Anti-Offshore Gambling Campaign
Recently, the TAB launched a campaign to discourage citizens from using these platforms, claiming that they drive millions in taxes to offshore companies. The campaigns include star-studded videos featuring famous sports stars and celebrities in a hope to influence Kiwi gamblers. These include UFC fighter Dan Hooker, rugby player Stephen Donald, and horse jockey Samantha Collett, amongst others.
One video estimates that NZ$130 million of gross betting revenue is lost to offshore firms, while the TAB received a NZ$41 million grant from the government in November to mitigate losses incurred by the coronavirus pandemic. New Zealand’s gaming and betting revenue was down 9.3% and 3.3% respectively in 2020, with internationally aired racing suffering a 10.6% loss.
However, all online gambling in the country remains illegal unless sanctioned by the government under the TAB system. With the TAB only offering basic betting on racing and sports matches, many Kiwi citizens turn to offshore online gambling sites to play card games and slots. For the TAB to attract online gamblers to locally hosted platforms, it would need to significantly improve its technology and offer games on an equivalent level to international operators.
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