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Second Annual Gamble Free Day on September 1st

[28.08.06]

Second Annual Gamble Free Day on September 1st

New Zealand’s second annual Gamble Free Day on 1st September 2006 is the day to raise public awareness and knowledge with regard to gambling harm to New Zealand society. There will be a number of activities around the country in recognition of this day.

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.

“In Wellington, PGF in conjunction with Health Sponsorship Council will release 1000 balloons at Parliament steps representing 100,000 problem gamblers in New Zealand,” says Dr Kawshi De Silva, Public Health Director of the Problem Gambling Foundation of New Zealand (PGF).

Problem gambling is a growing public health issue in New Zealand. In New Zealand 3% of the adult population are problem gamblers making up approximately 100,000 problem gamblers. Consistent with the increase in gambling activity there has been continuing growth in the number of people seeking help (except for 2005 refer to information on accessing services)

“It is important that the public realises who is affected by problem gambling. It is a societal issue that affects individuals, their families and community,” 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.

In New Zealand certain groups of population experience more harm from problem gambling than others. Maori, Pacific and certain groups of Asians (recent migrants, Chinese and Korean) are more affected than others. However, half of problem gamblers and those seeking help are New Zealand European/Pakeha.

The Gambling industry is particularly targeting vulnerable groups of population by placing more pokies in deprived areas in NZ.

• 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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