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Government sets $55.3m problem gambling strategy

Government sets $55.3m problem gambling strategy

Internal Affairs Minister Chris Tremain and Associate Health Minister Peter Dunne today released details of the Government’s $55.3 million, three-year gambling harm strategy to be funded and implemented by the Health Ministry, and recouped from the gambling industry through the problem gambling levy.

“Essentially the problem gambling levy is a mechanism to recover the costs from the gambling industry as part of the Government’s continuing commitment to addressing the important issue of gambling harm,” Mr Tremain says.

Mr Dunne says a complex mix of data and information was analysed in coming up with the package.

“Among the many factors, officials looked at participation research, and the impacts of various forms of gambling; data from already funded problem gambling services, data on player expenditure on gambling, and – importantly – forecast future gambling expenditure,” he says.

The three-year package includes:

$25.3 million for front-line intervention services to help people with gambling problems and others affected by those problems. This includes a range of services at a national, regional and local level, including dedicated Māori, Pacific, and Asian services, and helpline services.

$20.5 million for public health services, particularly prevention activities encouraging safe gambling practices and raising awareness of the potential dangers of gambling. This includes awareness and education programmes and resources, funding a variety of community level activities across the country; working with gambling venues to promote safe gambling environments, and work encouraging organisations to adopt policies supporting reduction of gambling harm.

$6.6 million for research and evaluation, including research to improve understanding of the impact of gambling on high-risk populations, and of risk and resiliency factors relating to the incidence of problem gambling. It also includes funding for an outcomes monitoring and reporting project to inform and support ongoing quality improvement in public health and intervention service delivery.

“This strategy to prevent and minimise gambling harm is the fourth. The first was developed in 2004,” Mr Tremain says.

“The process has also included an independent review by the Gambling Commission, which concluded that the strategy is ‘comprehensive, well thought out and targeted, while the costings demonstrate a willingness to operate within tight fiscal parameters’.

“The levy is staying about the same because there’s been no significant change to problem gambling data Indeed, there are fewer machines and gambling expenditure overall has fallen. In saying that, there is still an unmet need in gambling harm so no levy reduction was recommended,” he says.

Mr Dunne says the Government will recoup the funding required for the package of initiatives from the problem gambling levy – a levy on the profits of the main gambling operators.

The problem gambling levy is expected to recover about $33.35 million from non-casino gambling machines, $11.34 million from casinos, $5.38 million from the NZ Racing Board and $3.95 million from the NZ Lotteries Commission.

Regulations setting the levy will come into effect on 1 July 2013.

The strategy, Preventing and Minimising Gambling Harm: Three-year service plan and levy rates for 2013/14 to 2015/16, is available at www.health.govt.nz/publication/preventing-and-minimising-gambling-harm-three-year-service-plan-and-levy-rates-2013-14-2015-16

The regulatory impact statement can be found at www.health.govt.nz/about-ministry/legislation-and-regulation/regulatory-impact-statements/problem-gambling-levy-2013-14-2015-16

Ends.

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