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The Social Hazard of Gambling

The Social Hazard of Gambling - Dr Pita Sharples
Member of Parliament for Tamaki Makaurau
Wednesday 30 April 2008

Maori Party co-leader, Dr Pita Sharples, says the announcement that the Gambling Helpline will be forced to close in October, due to failed contract negotiations with the Ministry of Health, is a tragedy in light of recent reports describing the adverse impact of gambling upon communities as a social hazard.

“The Child Poverty Action Group’s report (Left behind) shows that the communities worst affected by gambling are those in low socio-economic areas” said Dr Pita Sharples.

“The majority of gambling venues are in decile 1-3 areas, with pokies and TAB venues far more likely to be concentrated in economically deprived areas than others” said Dr Sharples.

“We know too, that with gambling comes ill health, violence, financial difficulties, reliance on food-banks, and other impacts played out in the Courts”.

“As MP for Tamaki Makaurau, I know just how desperate some of my constituents have been as they have turned to gambling to escape poverty” said Dr Sharples.

“And of course, I am particularly driven by the fact that almost a third (28.5%) of problem gamblers are likely to be Maori”.

“A telephone helpline service – including the Pacific, Youth and Maori Helplines-has been one approach to intervention which has helped to support the families and communities who have been harmed by gambling” said Dr Sharples.

“Gambling is a huge hazard amongst us. Last year we were amazed at the strength of the rebellion seen in Manukau when over 6700 submissions flooded the Council offices speaking out against gambling” said Dr Sharples.

“While we all applauded their community courage and commitment, we know that there are many individuals and families, just looking for help to leave the social chaos of a gambling problem” said Dr Sharples.

“Whatever the problems are with the Ministry of Health, you would think they would be doing everything they can to reduce the risk of further harm” said Dr Sharples.


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