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Gambling Your Life

Media Release

For Immediate Release


New Zealand leads the world in the treatment of problem gambling

As new gambling facilities grow throughout the world, actors Philip Seymour Hoffman and Minnie Driver bring the reality of this addictive behaviour to our big screens.

Opening in cinemas this week, OWNING MAHOWNY is a critically acclaimed film based on the true story of an obsessive gambler. Philip Seymour Hoffman gives a powerful performance as polite, mild-mannered Dan Mahowny, an assistant bank manager with a head for numbers, a knack for making decisions, and a devastating appetite for gambling.

For a brief while Mahowny wins, but when it all falls apart, and he is arrested, Mahowny reveals that since his 12th birthday, he hasn't gone more than 72 hours without placing a bet.

The release of the film comes at a time when tens of thousands of New Zealanders suffer from problem gambling. In 2004, more than 5,000 people sought help from the Gambling Helpline, New Zealand's national freephone counselling service.

Gambling Helpline Chief Executive Gary Clifford says gambling today is highly visible with the introduction of new ways to gamble including the Internet and cellphones.

Some of the world's leading authorities on problem gambling will gather in Auckland for the International Gambling Conference: Policy, Practice and Research - One Year On and Think Tank on May 27-28.

The conference is being held to assess developments in New Zealand following the introduction last year of an integrated national public health framework to target problem gambling.

"Hosting this conference and Think Tank reflects New Zealand's strong international reputation in problem gambling research and in the way that we provide support services for people experiencing problems," says Mr Clifford.

It is estimated that every problem gambler negatively impacts the life of 10 people close to them, including family, friends and co-workers. On average $1,834 is spent on gambling in the four weeks leading up to the call for help. In 2004, New Zealanders lost $1.871 million on gambling, an increase of 12.3% on the previous year.

If you or someone you know has a gambling problem, you can contact Gambling Helpline on 0800 654 655 or email for professional, free, confidential information and support.


Opens nationally: Thursday 5th May

Run time: 105 minutes

Rating: M - low level offensive language

Stars: Philip Seymour Hoffman, Minnie Driver


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