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The personal and social impacts of pokie machines

The personal and social impacts of pokie machines highlighted on Gamble Free Day

Social marketing and television campaigns about problem gambling have raised public awareness about the severity of the problem within New Zealand in the last year.

September 1st was designated Gamble Free day in 2004, and yesterday saw a large number of activities in support of a gamble free day in many areas around New Zealand. This included street theatre in Auckland, a public quiz about gambling harm in Wellington, and a protest march of hundreds in Christchurch.

"Gamble Free Day is all about raising awareness about problem gambling and it also raises the profile of the different agencies that provide counselling services to an increasing number of gamblers seeking help for their gambling problems," says Glenda Northey, Research Librarian at the Problem Gambling Foundation.

"It is important that the public realises who is affected by problem gambling. It is not just individuals as many people think, but also affects partners and children, family members and wider communities."

The Ministry of Health reports that there could be as many as 500,000 problem gamblers inn New Zealand. However, only 12% of problem gamblers are accessing problem gambling services.

In AUCKLAND, PGF staff members staged a colourful street theatre performance culminating at the base of Sky City casino. The staff, dressed as representations of harm caused by gambling, an incarcerated businessman, a failing student, a victim of domestic violence, a loan shark and a host of others wheeled a pokie machine through the streets, urging members of the public to go gamble free.

In CHRISTCHURCH about 100 people stage a noisy protest from the casino to Cathedral Square. In the Square in front of Christchurch Cathedral a variety of information stands were set-up, and speakers from a various groups including FOG (Focus on Gambling - consumer group), PGF, Salvation Army, He Waka Tapu, Christchurch's Asian Community, and other concerned persons spoke to the crowd about their personal experience with problem gambling. Coverage of the event is available at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F1I2Jguik7M

In WELLINGTON staff braved fine weather and chilly winds to raise awareness amongst lunchtime shoppers in Cuba Mall. Steady interest shown by passersby and a large number entered a quiz on gambling problems.

Other offices around the country had awareness displays in local libraries and stalls in the towns main streets.

ENDS

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