Number of people using Gambling Helpline on rise
Number of people using the Gambling Helpline on the rise
Annual figures released today by the Gambling Helpline show that new clients increased by almost ten per cent (9.8%) during 2007.
In the same period, the total number of contacts (which includes new and existing clients) rose by 13 per cent.
According to Gambling Helpline chief executive, Krista Ferguson, the increase is largely attributable to the success of the government’s major social marketing campaign last year, in which Gambling Helpline was a key partner.
“The social marketing campaign has undoubtedly helped to educate and encourage people to come forward.”
On average, the Gambling Helpline received 242 new client calls per month during 2007 – up from 220 per month during 2006.
“While we’re very pleased that we’re reaching and helping more people – gambling remains a serious problem for thousands of New Zealanders and there’s a long way to go.”
Ms Ferguson said the rise in the number of new clients was also likely to be linked to the increase in the amount of money Kiwis lose on gambling, with total losses increasing by $43 million to $2.02 billion in the year to June 30, 2007, according to the latest figures from the Department of Internal Affairs.
“In addition, the recent downward trend of gambling losses and presentations reversed last year for the first time since the introduction of new smoking laws in 2004.”
The smoking ban, which requires gamblers to go outside for a cigarette, effectively breaks the gambling process. Ms Ferguson says that three years on from the ban, gamblers appear to have readjusted.
“It would appear that going outside for a cigarette no longer results in such a significant disruption for gamblers,” she said.
The majority of new clients (62 per cent) are problem gamblers seeking help, and 28 per cent are affected others. Affected others refers to immediate family, other relatives or others affected by another with a gambling problem. The remainder of the calls were from students, media, researchers and the general public who were interested in gambling or gambling problems.
Electronic gaming machines were identified by 83 per cent of new clients as being the primary mode of gambling. Of this 83 per cent, the majority (88%) identified gaming machines in pubs and clubs as the primary mode, and the remainder identified casino gaming machines.
This was followed by track betting and casino tables, accounting for 12 per cent of all new client contacts this year.
Almost all of the major centres saw increases in the number of people coming forward when compared to 2006. Dunedin was the exception to this, falling slightly.
Statistics also show that new gambler clients from the Maori and Pacific communities are increasingly similar in number to Pakeha/European new gambler clients, demonstrating that the disproportionate levels of problem gambling experienced by Maori and Pacific communities is still serious.
Ms Ferguson said 30 per cent more Pacific new clients approached the helpline last year than in 2006.
“These figures show we are getting our message through to a community greatly affected by the gambling problems.”
However, Ms Ferguson said contact from affected others within Maori and Pacific communities remained low compared to other ethnicities.
“This low contact may indicate that people are attempting to manage the problems within the whanau or that family/whanau are unaware that services are available for them. Reaching these people is an important challenge and we are set up to provide advice and resources to help this group.”
The success of new initiatives introduced in recent years continues with both the websites and SMS texting services generating contacts from people suffering from gambling harm.
A text messaging service introduced last year had also proved popular, Ms Ferguson said, although official statistics were not yet available.
If you are worried about your gambling or that of someone close to you call the Gambling Helpline on 0800 654 655, text 8006 or visit www.gamblingproblem.co.nz.