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Male problem gamblers lose more money

21 September 2006

Male problem gamblers lose more money

Men lose the most money when it comes to problem gambling, a just released Ministry of Health report shows.

The report, Problem Gambling Intervention Services in New Zealand: 2005 Service- user statistics, found men lost nearly $200 more in the four weeks before assessment for help services than their female counterparts.

The median amount lost by males was $1000 compared to $814 for females.

The figures also showed marked ethnic differences. The median amount lost by Asian people was $4050 compared to an overall median of $900. The median amount that people lost jumped to $900 in contrast to $800 for the previous three years. “We know most problem gamblers come from poorer communities and the loss of income for their families is significant. Often they struggle to pay their rent and have to use food banks. Some families have lost businesses and houses because of gambling debts,’’ says Ministry of Health spokeswoman Arawhetu Peretini.

The Ministry of Health has a responsibility under the Gambling Act 2003 for a public health programme to prevent and minimise gambling harm. It funds a range of treatment services to support people and communities affected by gambling.

The Problem Gambling Intervention Services in New Zealand: 2005 Service-user statistics report, which is published annually provides an overview of clients seeking help via the Gambling Helpline Ltd and face-to-face intervention services during 2005. It gives an insight into gambling-related harm; the type of gambling associated with it, and the help-seeking behaviour of problem gamblers and their significant others.

While New Zealanders continued to seek help for their own or someone else's problem gambling the number of people using Ministry funded specialist face-to-face intervention services dropped 15.8 per cent in 2005. There was also a 20.9 per cent decrease in the number of new clients using these services.

Arawhetu Peretini said the drop in numbers was possibly due to the impact of smokefree venues, regulatory measures to prevent and minimize gambling harm and increasing public awareness of gambling issues.

Two Ministry-funded screening projects are underway to train GPs and social service workers (eg budget advisors and Work and Income New Zealand staff) to identify people who may have a gambling-related problem or who may be at risk of gambling-related harm. The number of people being referred to problem gambling services is expected to increase as a result.

It is also anticipated that there will be a short to medium term increase in people seeking help when the media component of the social marketing campaign commences in 2007. In the longer-term, as public health and education initiatives take effect, there should be a decline in the numbers of people experiencing harm and people seeking help.

The 2005 national statistics also show that:

- Non-casino gaming machines were the primary form of problem gambling for the majority of gamblers using services, with 78.6% of Helpline gamblers and 72.4% of face-to-face gambler clients using them. A majority of Mäori females (95.4%) cited electronic gaming machines (casino and non-casino) as their primary mode of problem gambling.

- The proportion of new clients citing casino based gambling as their primary mode increased from 2004 to 2005. From 2004 to 2005, the increase for Helpline and face-to-face clients was10.8 to 13.5 per cent and13.5 to 16.2 per cent respectively.

- Asian clients of face-to-face services were more likely than other ethnic groups to cite casino tables as their primary mode of problem gambling. About 64 per cent of Asian clients gambled at casino tables compared to New Zealand European/ Pakeha (3.3 per cent), Maori (1.3 per cent), and Pacific clients (3.1 per cent).

-The median amount lost by males in the four weeks before assessment was $1000 compared to $814 for females. Males accounted for 70 per cent of the money lost despite making up just 55.4 per cent of face-to-face clients.

- The median amount lost by Pacific clients was $600 and for Maori clients $700.

- The number of people seeking help from face-to-face intervention services dropped 15.8 per cent on the previous year from 4761 to 4010.

- The number of new clients of face-to-face services decreased 20.9 per cent compared to the previous year from 3431 to 2714. - About 12 per cent of problem gamblers sought help for their problem gambling and the Ministry is undertaking research to look at the barriers to seeking help and how problem gambling can be picked up earlier. - The majority of follow-up clients (87.3%) reported losing less money in the four weeks prior to follow-up than in the four weeks prior to initial assessment and 70.5% of follow-up clients reported an improvement in their sense of control.

If you are concerned about someone who may have gambling problems, you can approach the following services for advice: - Face-to-face problem gambling services, such as Problem Gambling Foundation or Oasis. - Helplines such as Gambling Helpline (0800 654 654)

For a copy of the publication go to: http://www.moh.govt.nz/publicationsbydate

ENDS

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