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Gamble Free Day a time to take stock

1 September 2006

Gamble Free Day a time to take stock – O'Connor

Gamble Free Day is a good time for people to stop and think about the effects of problem gambling, Associate Heath Minister Damien O'Connor said today.

Gamble Free Day is marked today by the launching from the steps of Parliament of 1000 helium balloons, which represent New Zealand's thousands of problem gamblers.

Mr O'Connor, who has responsibility for gambling-related health issues, applauded the community-developed and funded initiative.

"I'm supportive of this effort to raise awareness of the toll problem gambling takes on our communities, with poorer areas and Maori and Pacific people the hardest hit."

Almost two-thirds of problem gamblers live in New Zealand's most socio-economically deprived areas, according to the 02/03 New Zealand Health Survey.

"Anytime is a good time to think about whether you control the gambling or the gambling controls you – but it would be great if today's events encouraged more people to stop and take stock."

Just 12 percent of people classed as problem gamblers have accessed Ministry of Health funded services, Mr O'Connor said.

"That still leaves thousands of people who have a gambling problem who are not seeking help. I'd urge them to take action today."

Mr O'Connor said he was keen to see communities develop an understanding of the issues around gambling and to express their views.

The Ministry of Health is currently seeking submissions, by September 29, on its draft Consultation Document which includes a Service Plan, Needs Assessment and Levy Calculations for preventing and minimising gambling harm over the three-years 2007-2010.

ENDS

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