Fun Police out in Force

The Fun Police are out in force making sure people aren’t able to enjoy themselves:

Internal Affairs has mounted a crackdown on big spot prizes at expos and fishing competitions, warning organisers they constitute illegal gambling.

Officials have sent cease-and-desist letters to 15 organisations, informing them that events with an entry fee cannot have door giveaways, raffles or barrel draws with prizes worth more than $500.

Beach and Boat Fishing Competition organiser Tony Wheeler has put ticket sales to New Zealand’s biggest fishing tournament on hold, after receiving the letter this month. He is scrambling to figure out how to comply with the Department of Internal Affairs’ strict conditions.

Only certain licensed organisations, like the Lotteries Commission, charitable trusts and SkyCity casino, are allowed to run games of chance.

The crackdown comes after a complaint from a pokies trust, which argued that its business was being undermined by events like A&P shows and trade shows that give away spot prizes such as cars, boats and holidays.

Wheeler’s annual competition is the biggest fishing tournament in the country with 2100 competitors and more than $220,000 worth of spot prizes, including a boat and a car. The heavily-promoted $100,000 prize for catching a special snapper – tagged by the officials and thrown back in – is alleged to breach the Gambling Act.

Catching a tagged fish requires some knowledge or skill, but Internal Affairs believes winning relies on a large element of chance. Fishing competitions are still allowed to award prizes for catching the most fish, or the biggest fish, because this is regarded as skill.

It is obvious that this law is a throw back, and needs to be repealed. Blatant protectionism of gambling rackets is what it is.


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  • The Dept of Internal Affairs obviously has budgets that are far too generous and it also has too many staff on its payroll.

    Otherwise there is no way they should be concerned with this kind of pissant stuff.

    The relevant Minister needs to look into this dept urgently, and make the budget cuts and staff cutbacks that are so obviously necessary.

  • thor42

    I wouldn’t call them the “Fun Police” though. They’re more like the “Fun Nazis” – just as we have “Food Nazis” telling us what we should be eating.

  • Mediaan

    Good work WO for spotting and highlighting this.


    And if gambling revenues, a vast pot of money, are mis-administered, which crime organisations have got their little friends in which part of Government?

    Might be time to start looking more closely at the many little links to Internal Affairs in the usual poor results we get in computerized public service departments too, such as the recent welfare kiosks IT mess.

    It seems Internal Affairs is a lot to blame. Their fingers are all over Government IT appointments and expenditures. Further, this is a big and seemingly poorly-administered pool of money.

    As I have remarked elsewhere, the Government spending on IT is apparently $2billion per year.

    Let’s take a close look at what we are spending it on.

  • peterwn

    Many years ago Kirks (the venerable Wellington department store), for a celebration, baked cakes with sixpences in them and gave each customer a slice. they were prosecuted for running an illegal lottery.

  • Bunswalla

    Couldn’t agree more – ridiculous wowserising and nit-picking to protect the pokies and other gambling dens, at the expense of largely outdoor-related family activities that will now suffer. Having a spot-prize to attract people to an event like a fishing competition is an excellent idea. If you make the prize for the biggest or most fish you just encourage more people to take fish that they don’t even get to keep, at most competitions. Often the bigger fish are the best breeders and they should be left to live out their old age – they’re usually as tough as old boots anyway – snapper in particular.

    Fishing competitions are about as far removed from gambling or games fo chance as you could get.