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Work underway to support problem gamblers

26 September, 2006

Work underway to support problem gamblers seeking help

The Ministry of Health is investigating ways to encourage more people to seek help for problem gambling, Associate Health Minister Damien O'Connor said today.

Commenting on the Ministry's report Problem Gambling Intervention Services in New Zealand: 2005 Service-user statistics, Damien O'Connor said it was estimated that only 10-12% of problem gamblers seek help.

"Problem gambling has very serious consequences for many New Zealand families and we are committed to encouraging more people to seek help," he said.

"The Ministry of Health has a screening programme already underway to train GPs and social service workers to identify people who may have a gambling-related problem or who may be at risk. We also expect people will be encouraged to seek help during the rollout of a campaign next year focussed on preventing and minimising gambling harm.

"The Ministry of Health is awaiting research data on problem gambling treatment services, which includes examining the barriers that put people off seeking help. Once this information is obtained it will inform any policy and service changes needed."

The report found a decrease in gambling expenditure and use of gambling treatment services for the first time since 1997 when data was first collated.

"The reasons for this appear to be a combination of the impact of the Smokefree Environments Amendment Act 2005 and the introduction of regulations associated with the Gambling Act 2003."

Mr O'Connor said the Ministry had made significant progress towards meeting the goals of its current plan for preventing and minimising gambling harm. "The Ministry continues to review current services and the results they achieve to ensure it is supporting the most effective services."

A draft consultation document was released last month for public consultation, with submissions due to close at the end of this week.

ENDS

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