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More gamblers seek help for problems

More gamblers seek help for problems

Associate Minister of Health Damien O'Connor says he's encouraged that more New Zealanders are seeking help for gambling problems.

Figures released today by the Problem Gambling Committee, the body responsible for the funding and coordination of problem gambling services in New Zealand, show a significant increase in people accessing problem gambling services such as the telephone helpline and counselling services.

Just over 6400 people received help for gambling problems last year, up 21 percent on 2001. The committee also recorded a 24 percent rise in new callers to the helpline last year, and an 11 percent increase in people receiving personal counselling.

While the Government was concerned that gambling could in some cases cause problems for those engaging in it, Mr O'Connor said those who had problems or felt they might be losing control were accessing the helpline and getting counselling.

"It's very important having these services available in an environment where gambling opportunities are increasing, and more money is being spent on gambling," he said.

"I agree with Problem Gambling Committee chairman Jim Lynch that there also needs to be greater investment on preventative approaches to stop the development of gambling problems.

"This Government is currently working to address gambling problems through legislation."

Mr O'Connor, who has responsibility for problem gambling issues in the health sector, commended the Problem Gambling Committee for the work it did in helping people with gambling problems, and for the quality of services it provided. Almost 70 percent of clients stated that they had benefitted from accessing problem gambling services.

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