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Increased violence in gambling-related crime

17 June 2005

Increased violence in gambling-related crime

"Gambling-related crime has become more violent and involves greater amounts of money," says John Stansfield, CEO of the Problem Gambling Foundation (PGF).

The Problem Gambling Foundation has noticed a dramatic increase in the number of high-profile gambling-related crimes. Individuals are committing acts of kidnapping and extortion, theft, fraud, neglect and a variety of other crimes in order to feed their gambling problems.

"Each year over 5000 New Zealanders are convicted of gambling-related crimes," says Mr Stansfield.

"It is very unfortunate for New Zealand society that gambling-related crime is so predominant. On an increasingly frequent basis we hear of fraud, money laundering and theft for people to fund their gambling problems.

A 2004 KPMG study found that gambling was the second highest motivator for serious property crime, and the highest motivator for fraud.

"Fraud and theft to fund gambling problems are unfortunately becoming increasingly common, and people are taking tens of thousands of dollars to feed the pokies," he says.

Gambling affects more than individuals. For every person with a gambling problem, seven people are affected. These people are whanau, children, friends, employers and the wider community.

"The economic, social and cultural costs to communities are huge," he says.

"If you look at some of the more recent cases in the media, the relation between gambling and crime is horrific. Children have been neglected in cars, business partners have been ripped off and elderly have been beaten up and in some cases murdered.

"This is becoming an epidemic in our society when it doesn't need to be. Stringent safety features need to be implemented on pokie machines to eliminate the harm caused by gambling in our society."

ENDS

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