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Balloons released for problem gambling

[31.08.06]

Balloons released for problem gambling

“Wellington’s sky will be dotted with 1000 balloons for the 100,000 problem gamblers in New Zealand on Gamble Free Day,” says Dr Kawshi De Silva, Director of Public Health for the Problem Gambling Foundation of New Zealand (PGF).

“It is very important for all New Zealanders to know how problem gambling can affect all of us and how many are affected in our country,” says Dr De Silva.

This is New Zealand’s second annual Gamble Free Day on 1st September 2006 with the theme “Make a Difference.” It is the day to raise public awareness and knowledge about gambling harm in New Zealand society. The concept arose from the 2004 CommUnity conference in Hamilton, in which a strongly supported call from the floor proposed a national day of action against gambling harm. Conference delegates decided on 1st September as a national day of action from service providers and communities to recognise the harm caused by problem gambling in New Zealand.

“It is important that the public realises who is affected by problem gambling. It is not just individuals as many people think, but also affects partners and children, family members and wider communities,” she says.

In New Zealand 3% of the adult population are problem gamblers which equates to approximately 100,000 problem gamblers. However, only 12% of problem gamblers are accessing problem gambling services.

“That means that 88% of problem gamblers are still not getting the help which is available and out there, and the main reason for it is the pokies. The gambling industry repeatedly targets vulnerable population groups by placing pokies in the lowest socio-economic areas of New Zealand,” she says.

Problem gambling can lead to family break-ups, workplace problems and can result in crime. It puts pressure on health services and the criminal justice system. Problem gamblers may also spend money gambling instead of providing the essentials of life, like food or housing, for themselves and their families.

Last year New Zealanders lost $2.027 billion through all forms of gambling

• $1.027 billion was lost on non-casino pokie machines
• There are 20,739 non-casino pokies in 1701 venues
• Pokies were the primary mode of gambling for 81% of clients
• 2714 new clients (gamblers and their families) sought help in the year ended 30th June 2005
• Over 60% of problem gamblers live in low socio-economic areas

ENDS

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