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Young and old affected by gambling and fraud

Young and old affected by gambling and fraud

“The combination of gambling and fraud has once again caused despair in Christchurch,” says John Stansfield, CEO of the Problem Gambling Foundation of New Zealand (PGF).

This comes after reports of a young Christchurch woman defrauding an elderly woman of $50,000 over a six-month period.

“Problem gambling wreaks devastation on so many levels in society. The most distressing fact in this case, is both a young woman and an elderly woman have had their lives destroyed from the onset of problem gambling,” says Mr Stansfield.

“This young woman will now be known as a convicted fraudster, and the elderly woman has lost her independence, a huge sum of money, and ended up in a retirement home,” he says.

“Young people are particularly at risk from problem gambling,” adds Lauren Cundall, PGF’s Youth Project Team Leader.

“The instant gratification, near wins and close calls and seeking the ‘big win’ all work to entice young people to gamble on the pokies – sometimes to the detriment of themselves and others,” says Cundall.

“It can also be seen as a way to meet the day-to-day needs, and when their gambling gets out of control, they can often turn to crime,” she says.

“This just goes to show that it is more than just the individual who suffers from problem gambling,” says Stansfield.

“We know that 5000 New Zealanders who commit gambling-related crimes result in conviction, and there are many more that are detected and not prosecuted, and an even larger amount who are not detected at all,” he says.

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

“It is devastating for New Zealand communities that gambling-related crime is so predominant. On an increasingly frequent basis we hear of fraud, theft and money-laundering to support a gambling problem,” he says.

“The economic, social and cultural costs are huge.”

“However, it is not all doom and gloom. PGF provide free and confidential services to anyone with – or affected by – problem gambling. All you have to do is call us free on 0800 664 262.

“We also provide an educational resource for young people to help them build resilience and awareness to the harms gambling can cause,” says Cundall.

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