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September 1st: Gamble-Free Day

GamblingWatch News Release

The New Zealand Coalition for Gambling Reform

15th July 2005

September 1st: Gamble-Free Day

Thursday September 1st 2005 will be New Zealand’s first “Gamble-Free Day”.

The 2004 ‘CommUnity Action on Gambling Conference’, held in Hamilton, strongly supported a call from the floor of the 200-strong conference for a symbolic day of action in 2005 to highlight the effects of gambling in New Zealand.

Local groups will be organising their own activities to highlight local concerns about the spread and effect of gambling, particularly pokie machine gambling, and national lobby group GamblingWatch has produced a Gamble-Free Day sticker, for “strategic placement” around the country.

GamblingWatch co-ordinator Dave Macpherson said, “of particular concern in New Zealand is the penetration of pokie machine gambling, in pubs, clubs and casinos."

“Around 90% of all people presenting to treatment services with gambling addiction problems cite pokies as the primary cause of their problem."

“About 60% of the $2 billion-plus lost annually by New Zealanders on gambling is grabbed by pokie machines."

“There are around 24,500 pokie machines legally operating in the country, about one machine for every 118 adult New Zealanders."

“Although the recent Gambling Act has curbed, and in some cases reduced, the growth of pokie machine sites, the gambling industry had such a massive jump start in the late 1990’s and early 2000’s, that communities throughout New Zealand will suffer for years from problems caused by gambling,” he said.

Mr Macpherson said that a number of groups in Australia and Canada had also shown an interest in promoting the Day, requesting stickers and other information from his organization.

“Australian groups, facing similar gambling problems to New Zealand, have suggested this as an ‘International Gamble-Free Day’, and while we would be most happy if this eventuated, New Zealanders probably have enough of a mess to sort out in their own back yard without spreading our wings too far afield.”

ENDS

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