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Problem gambling creates morally bankrupt society

17 August 2005

Problem gambling creates morally bankrupt society

“The murder of a Taranaki man is possibly the worst result of problem gambling,” says John Stansfield, CEO of the Problem Gambling Foundation of New Zealand (PGF).

“Reports show that gambling-related crime is becoming more violent, involving greater amounts of money and causing more harm to communities,” says Mr Stansfield.

“We are seeing individuals commit acts of kidnapping and extortion, fraud, neglect and a variety of other crimes in order to feed gambling problems via the pokie machines.

“Lying and stealing are bad enough, but for someone to lose their life? That is the ultimate price that has been paid by an individual and community,” he says.

Each year over 5000 New Zealanders are convicted of gambling-related crimes. A 2004 KPMG study found that gambling was the second highest motivator for serious property crime, and the highest motivator for fraud.

Gambling affects more than individuals. For every person with a gambling problem, seven people are affected. These people are whanau, children, friends, employers and the wider community.

“The economic, social and cultural costs to this community are huge,” he says.

New Plymouth District has one pokie machine per 121 adult residents (18+ years) and South Taranaki has one pokie machine per 104 adult residents (18+ years). The region's gamblers lose a combined total $27,554,000 (based on an average of $46,000 per machine).

“It was reported that money was stolen from the murder victim to feed the pokies. This is of particular concern, as almost 90% of problem gamblers cite pokies as the cause of their problem gambling.”

It is however, fortunate that something can be done. The inaugural national Gamble-Free Day will be held on Thursday 1st September 2005. This is an ample opportunity for service providers and concerned communities to let politicians know that we don’t want our communities to be harmed by problem gambling any longer.”

“It is a day of action which politicians should take note of – especially in election year. However, only stringent safety features on pokie machines can really work to eliminate gambling harm.”

ENDS

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