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Problem Gambling Service User Statistics 2007

Release of Problem Gambling Service User Statistics 2007

12 August 2008


The Ministry of Health is releasing the Problem Gambling Intervention Services in New Zealand: 2007 Service-user statistics report.

The report, released annually, presents and summarises the data collected by problem gambling service providers in 2007. It provides an overview of clients who have sought help via Gambling Helpline Ltd (the Helpline) and face-to-face problem gambling services during that period.

The report is part of the Ministry of Health's annual monitoring series and allows for the identification of changes over time in the characteristics of clients seeking help for gambling issues.

"It is encouraging to note that over 85% of clients reported they had lost less money in the four weeks prior to their reassessment than in the four weeks prior to their first assessment." said Barbara Phillips, the Ministry's Minimising Harm Group Manager. "Problem gambling services do work, and for those who have reached crisis point these services provide an invaluable and sometimes lifesaving source of assistance."

Key figures from the 2007 report include;
• The Gambling Helpline's higher number of new clients worked out at a 9.8% increase from the number of new clients in 2006 (2648). A substantial increase in the number of interested other clients (24.4%) was also evident.

• The primary mode of harmful gambling cited by most new Helpline clients and new gamblers who had sought face-to-face help remained non-casino gaming machines in 2007 (75.6% and 66.8% respectively), with slight increases for both since 2006 (74.9% and 64.8% in 2006).

• The substantial majority (89.1%) of new female gambler face-to-face clients reported their primary mode of gambling as electronic gaming machines (casino and non-casino).

• Less than half (44.8%) of new Helpline gambler clients were New Zealand European/Pakeha, with Maori and Pacific peoples continuing to be over-represented in problem gambling statistics.

The Problem Gambling Intervention Services in New Zealand: 2007 Service-user statisticsreport is available on the Ministry's website at http://www.moh.govt.nz/moh.nsf/pagesmh/8237

QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS

What is included in Problem Gambling Intervention Services in New Zealand: 2007 Service-user statistics?
Problem gambling Intervention Services in New Zealand: 2007 Service-user statistics summarises the number of people seeking help from specialist problem gambling services funded by the Ministry of Health. It has been, and continues to be, an important component of gambling monitoring in New Zealand. It provides some insight into the “sharp end” of gambling-related harm; the modes of gambling associated with it, and the help-seeking behaviour of problem gamblers and their significant others.

What is the Helpline?
Gambling Helpline Limited (the Helpline – 0800 654 655) is a national free telephone service that provides support services for those affected by gambling problems, and refers people to face-to-face problem gambling intervention services.

What is problem gambling?
Problem gambling is a pattern of gambling behaviour that disrupts and damages a person’s life, their friendships, family relationships and job interests.

What was the primary mode of problem gambling cited by problem gambling clients in New Zealand in 2007?
Non-casino gaming machines (pokies) were the primary mode of problem gambling for the majority of people using services. This was the primary mode of problem gambling for 75.6% of Helpline gambler clients and 66.8% of face-to-face gambler clients. A substantial majority of female face-to-face clients (78.7%) cited non-casino gaming machines as their primary mode of problem gambling.

Do face-to-face intervention services reduce the harm of problem gambling?
Over half of follow-up clients had substantial improvements in mental health and well-being related to their gambling behaviour following face-to-face intervention. This was indicated by improvements in their sense of control, a reduction in the amount of money lost, and lower SOGS-3M* scores.

How many problem gamblers are there in New Zealand?
At any given time, between 0.3% and 1.8% of adults in New Zealand are likely to score as problem gamblers on standard questionnaires, that's between about 10,000 and 50,000 people. Analysis of the 2006/07 New Zealand Health Survey estimated that one in 19 were at low risk and one in 50 were at moderate risk of their gambling being a problem. However, a further 0.6% of gamblers met the criteria for problem gambling, equating to 13,000 adults, or 0.4% of the total New Zealand adult population. The behaviour of each severe problem gambler is also likely to affect between 7 and 17 other people to some degree.

What is being done to encourage more people to seek help for problem gambling behaviours?
The Ministry of Health continues to fund the Health Sponsorship Council (HSC) to develop and produce the ‘Kiwi Lives’ mass media campaign. The campaign highlights the damaging effect of problem gambling in homes and communities in New Zealand.

The Ministry of Health also funds research, such as the Auckland University of Technology’s study on barriers to help-seeking behaviour for problem gamblers and their family/whânâu.

Does a change in the number of people seeking help with Ministry of Health funded problem gambling services indicate a change in problem gambling prevalence rates?
Not necessarily. As with other addictions, only a small proportion of people with gambling problems seek help through Ministry of Health funded problem gambling services. A change in presentation patterns may not accurately reflect the wider problem in New Zealand.

What should I do if I’m concerned someone may have gambling problems?
If you are concerned about someone who may have gambling problems you can approach the following services for advice:
• Face-to-face problem gambling counselling services, such as the Problem Gambling Foundation or Oasis
• Helplines such as Gambling Helpline (phone: 0800 654 655, website: http://www.gamblingproblem.co.nz)

*The South Oaks Gambling Screen (SOGS) has been adapted to measure the client’s gambling behaviour in the three months prior to assessment (SOGS-3M). A score of 3 or greater indicates a client may be considered a problem gambler (Abbott M & Volberg R. 1991. Gambling in New Zealand: Report to the Department of Internal Affairs. Wellington: Department of Internal Affairs.


ENDS

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