A YouTube ad, featuring former Black Caps star, Brendon McCullum has breached New Zealand laws that prohibit ads from overseas bookmakers by being on an international site.

This breach of law is currently a hot topic, with a recent report revealing that New Zealand’s Problem Gambling Foundation has filed a formal complaint with the Department of Internal Affairs (DIA) over the online gambling ad that features McCullum as the brand ambassador for the gambling company 22Bet.

McCullum who was previously part of the well-known New Zealand national cricket team, and is currently a member of the English cricket team, is depicted inside a sports car in this recent advertisement that promotes mobile betting via 22Bet.

The Current Legal Scenario In New Zealand Vis-à-vis The Gambling Sector

While the gambling sector is currently undergoing changes, online gambling is still illegal in New Zealand except for the New Zealand Lotteries Commission and TAB, the Racing Board of New Zealand. Therefore, those companies that offer online gambling services in the country are essentially breaking the law. However, gamblers who use the service of such companies would not be liable to prosecution; although operators are still prohibited from advertising their services to New Zealand audiences or using local marketing or advertising companies.

Complaint Filed By New Zealand’s Problem Gambling Foundation – The Details 

The recent complaint lodged with the DIA alleges that Brendon McCullum’s endorsement of 22Bet legitimizes the platform for New Zealand audiences, with the company being “aggressively marketed” on YouTube.

In fact, the main issue expressed in the complaint is not about using this prominent figure in cricket to promote sports betting, but rather the frequency and tone of the advertising campaign. And since 22Bet is based in Cyprus, the DIA is limited in its ability to enforce regulations against gambling platforms that lie outside the country.

Responsible Gambling: A Pressing Issue

Unfortunately, gambling harm is a reality faced by many individuals. In fact, the Ministry of Health warned that gambling is a “significant social and economic issue”, and cited evidence that 20% of New Zealanders experience gambling harm.

In view of this, it is encouraging to see that some gambling providers recognize the need for minimizing this problem and already offer features to help in this regard. Features such as loss limits, bet limits and deposit limits can be helpful for those who find it difficult to set their own boundaries around this form of entertainment. Moreover, the option for self-exclusion is another feature that can be availed of by individuals who acknowledge their gambling problem and want to exclude themselves entirely from gambling, at least for a definite period.

Of course, responsible gambling should not only be taken seriously by online casino providers. Other brands within the sector like the well-established NoDeposit365.co.nz also need to ensure that just like the providers they’re affiliated with, they too follow the same protocols in the way they promote this pastime. Therefore, it’s a question of providers and other stakeholders, including the players themselves, pulling on the same rope, so that this form of entertainment remains a source of enjoyment rather than a cause of problems.

According to academic studies, when gambling is advertised it serves to normalize this potentially harmful activity for young people, and according to the World Health Organization, poses a threat to their health and well-being. Research shows that the communities that are most significantly affected by gambling harm are the Māoris, people from the South Pacific islands, the younger generation, some Asian communities, and those in lower socioeconomic communities.

McCullum’s Standing Among His Followers

McCullum’s reputation among his admirers seems to have taken quite a dip, with commentators warning him that “this ‘brand ambassador’ work…is ruining your reputation”, “making you the most hated man in NZ or at least the laughing stock”, describing his move as “appalling”. Although McCullum has received financial compensation for his role as an ambassador, he finds himself in quite an uncomfortable situation that he likely didn’t anticipate.

It remains to be seen how the DIA will respond to the complaint that’s been lodged against 22Bet. Until now the Department has stated that it’s looking further into the matter and may request the betting company to change their misleading marketing.