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Playing It Safe In Clubs

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
2 March 2004

PLAYING IT SAFE IN CLUBS

Staff and members of 322 of New Zealand's chartered clubs now have access to a new service to prevent or overcome gambling problems. The 'ClubSafe Helpline' programme is a joint initiative between the Gambling Problem Helpline and Clubs New Zealand that has been operating since last December.

The Gambling Problem Helpline was contracted to provide a confidential and dedicated counselling, information and support service to over 257,000 club staff and members to enable gambling problems to be identified and to provide help to members and staff with concerns for themselves or friends. The delivery of these services is through a dedicated phone line, website and email support. ClubSafe Helpline also has online forums, similar to Internet 'chat rooms,' on a number topics including safety (how to help a mate, how to help myself) and the ClubSafe experience.

The ClubSafe programme is one of a number of host responsibility initiatives developed by Clubs New Zealand, and shows industry leadership in responding to the requirements of the Gambling Act.

Clubs New Zealand chief executive Roger Parton says that while the gaming machines generate substantial funds for the benefit of clubs, their members and communities, they can also lead to harmful levels of gambling.

"Gaming machines provide much needed funds for community clubs. However, we think it's important to minimise the potential harm of problem gambling within our venues. ClubSafe has been developed to proactively address gambling problems in member clubs through both early identification of potential problems and where necessary connecting members and staff to gambling problem support services."

Chief executive of the Gambling Problem Helpline Gary Clifford says the new service and partnership with Clubs New Zealand represents a unique offering both in New Zealand and internationally.

"This is a great opportunity for us to further develop our world leading model of gambling problem support. It's a pleasure to partner with a responsible, professional industry player to address gambling problems, providing both prevention and ongoing care services," says Mr Clifford.

Mr Parton says that the ClubSafe programme has been adapted and developed from an existing Australian initiative, although the addition of the Gambling Problem Helpline services is unique in New Zealand.

While the programme is still developing, Mr Clifford says there has been a positive response so far, with calls and emails being received from club staff as well as club patrons.

"The majority of people making contact have been seeking help and advice for their own gambling problems, but we've also had calls from people concerned about others.

"We've found, through our main website, that online forums are an effective way for people to share their stories and offer support to each other. The idea is based on self-help and it has the benefit of being completely anonymous and confidential," says Mr Clifford. "We've also provided this option as part of ClubSafe and expect that the forum will be taken up by club staff and members in a similar fashion."

Clubs New Zealand is an association representing over 322 chartered clubs with over 254,000 members. Members have around 3,300 gaming machines in their venues.

The Gambling Problem Helpline is recognised as a world-leading provider of gambling problem helpline services. Its national services include phone counselling, ongoing call-backs, online forums, integrated care and specialist phone lines (Maori, Pasifika, youth and gambling debt).

- ENDS -

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