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Call for unity to combat problem gambling in NZ

December 1, 2006

Gambling Helpline calls for unity to combat problem gambling in New Zealand

New Zealand’s Gambling Helpline is calling for all members of New Zealand’s gambling industry and problem gambling help services to work together in 2007 to combat New Zealand’s problem gambling issues.

“Problem gambling remains a serious issue for New Zealand, with more than 80 per cent of an estimated 56,000 problem gamblers not coming forward for help. Even less family members seek support. Combined resources and collaborative initiatives are a way of working towards resolving the issues and really tackling the problem,” Gambling Helpline chief executive Krista Ferguson said.

Helplines are often called the first point of contact for gambling issues but there is a real opportunity for the gambling industry to facilitate those contacts.

“If we have active collaboration by the gambling industry in identifying and intervening with actual or potential problem gamblers we should see higher presentations to services like ours, not lower presentations.

“It is important to acknowledge that this problem is everyone’s responsibility and it is in everyone’s best interests to work together,” said Ms Ferguson.

Ms Ferguson believes that central to alleviating the problem is recognising that individual gamblers are not the only people to suffer but also their family, friends and colleagues.

“Every problem gambler potentially affects up to seven significant others. With a wide cross-section of the help-service and gambling industries working together, the ability to help all of these affected people will also increase,” she said.

There was a decline in contacts during 2005 due to smokefree legislation, however figures for the year to date in 2006 show that new client contacts have potentially stabilised with more than 200 new clients per month and approximately 500 additional repeat clients.

“Presentation numbers only tell part of the story. It is important to recognise the harm inflicted by gambling extends to economic, physical, emotional, psychological and legal strife. Every one of those 700 New Zealanders who present each month has their own story about how this has impacted on their lives and the lives of those they care about. How do we measure the loss of a home, the break-up of a relationship, a business going bankrupt or the loss of life? Just one death because of gambling is one person too many.

“Co-operation amongst the different parts of the gambling sectors will lead to initiatives which alleviate the ripple-out effect of problem gambling,” Ms Ferguson said.

If you are worried about your gambling or that of some-one close to you call the Gambling Helpline on 0800 654 655 or visit www.gamblingproblem.co.nz. For international information and helpline services visit www.gamblingproblemhelplines.com

ENDS

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