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TV ads encouraging youth gambling over Christmas

December 19, 2007

TV ads encouraging youth gambling over Christmas

Advertisements for a poker website on TV 3 are the subject of a complaint to the Department of Internal Affairs.

John Stansfield of the Problem Gambling Foundation says his organisation is angry that advertisements for "PokerStars" which compare poker with sporting activities are appearing on family programmes like the Simpsons.

He says that a number of companies are treating the Christmas break period as the season of greed rather than a time for healthy family activities.

"We have a television station trying to get young people gambling and companies trying to flog off gambling toys," he says.

Mr Stansfield says that advertising online gambling is illegal but the "PokerStars" ads seem to be trying to get around this by saying their games are not played for real money.

"The same company has two sites with similar web addresses. On one of them poker is played for money and on the other no real money changes hands.

"We have made an official complaint because we believe it is illegal for a gambling company to advertise an online gambling website it owns.

"Even if the company has found a legal loophole TV 3 should be refusing to accept the advertising."

Mr Stansfield says the ad encourages young people to think that poker is a game of skill and that young people can become stars if they practice enough.

"They show basketball stars practicing and suggest that if young people practice at poker they can be stars.

"These ads are grooming our youth to become gamblers in the future and should be dealt with severely."

Mr Stansfield says that online gambling is a growing problem internationally and New Zealand needed to make the resources available to stamp on it hard before it causes more problems.

"Sitting at home gambling in isolation is very dangerous. There is nobody to notice when you lose control and nobody is held responsible if things go wrong.

"We cannot afford to say it is too difficult to police the internet. If we want to we can. It's simply a matter of will and resources."

Mr Stansfield says he will be contacting TV3 and asking them to pull the ads before the holiday period when many young people will be watching television.

ENDS

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