SkyCity has warned Kiwis on the rising online gambling scams and fraudulent gambling sites that are trying to lure players by imitating its branding.
The entertainment firm, which runs land-based casinos in Hamilton, Queenstown and Auckland in addition to online casinos, reported a significant increase in internet adverts targeting players by using its logo, style, and name.
According to Michael Ahearne, the Chief Executive Officer at SkyCity, false advertisements appearing on Facebook prompt people to download an application from the Google Play Store. It raised concerns that New Zealanders were recently misled by rogue operators into believing they were playing at SkyCity online casino when they were not.
Surge in Deceptive Online Adverts
Concerned about locals being misguided, Mr Ahearne shared in a statement this week that there had been a massive increase in the number of gambling advertisements which fraudulently use the company’s appearance and brand recognition to target New Zealand players in recent months.
One of the pages masquerading as SkyCity on Facebook attracted 3,200 followers. The page on social media falsely representing the gambling operator has since been removed. The scam that already cost Kiwis millions and leads to a fake website. Once people enter their details, they receive phone calls, brochures or contracts.
Mr Ahearne stated that SkyCity is concerned about the effects of the latest online gambling scam, the danger to locals and the possibility of misleading them into believing they were downloading and using the actual SkyCity online casino app.
During the Cyber Smart Week initiative for consumer awareness, online casino operators encouraged New Zealand players to be extra careful in selecting the operators they trust and bet with. SkyCity also urges players from New Zealand to double-check the URLs they use and to be extra cautious when opening links on social media.
SkyCity’s Advice to Kiwis
Mr Ahearne urged Kiwis to be cautious about the web addresses they use when clicking links. According to SkyCity, regulating the online gambling industry in the country will assist in safeguarding locals from some of the fraudulent tactics utilized by organisations to exploit vulnerable players.
Ahearne believes New Zealand regulatory organisations should be given the authority to deal with what he described as rogue operators who are out to defraud locals.
Illegal Ads for Offshore Gambling
Under the rules of the Gambling Act, for the time being, it is prohibited to publish or market services of offshore gambling operators to New Zealanders. However offshore gambling organisations frequently bypass these laws in order to take advantage of trusting locals.
Skycity’s operations revealed that the company has reported fraudulent activities and usage of its branding and trademarks to New Zealand’s gambling watchdog and the Department of Internal Affairs on a regular basis.
Cert NZ, the government cybersecurity agency, received 474 complaints of instances involving online scams and cases of fraud between April 1 and June 30. Despite a 24% decline from the previous quarter, the category was regularly among the top three reported to Cert NZ.
The New Zealand gambling regulator has difficulty regulating online gambling and offshore or overseas gambling services since their attempts are challenging to discover, control, and prevent, as they are geographically located beyond the reach of national regulators. A variety of tools have been tested to control non-regulated offers. A recent report on the regulation of overseas gambling operators showed that blocking approaches, alongside restrictions on advertisement, were amongst the most used by regulators.
During the most recent Cyber Smart Week, SkyCity warned Kiwis to carefully select the operators with whom they bet, to constantly double-check and refrain from simply clicking links they used, and to exercise caution when opening links on social media websites, because they lure consumers into feeling a sense of non-existent safety.
The emphasis on awareness and regulatory measures refocuses on the importance of dealing with overseas gambling operators that illegally advertise to Kiwis. While advertising overseas gambling remains illegal in New Zealand, online casinos have found ways around the rules in the past. The breaches include employing free-to-play advertising for their gambling sites that resemble pay-to-play online venues quite closely, appearing to be almost identical to websites rightfully operating under the same name.
Expect SkyCity to continue being a strong supporter of online casino gaming regulation as the sector expands. BestNewZealandCasinos aligns with this sentiment, recognizing the need for comprehensive regulations to ensure player safety and responsible gaming practices.
Offshore internet gaming businesses are currently not obligated to adhere to basic damage minimisation requirements or to safeguard New Zealanders from harm, according to Mr Ahearne. He also believes that regulation will guarantee that online gambling operators pay their due share of taxes and community contributions, rather than enriching offshore markets, as is presently the case.