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Gambling a threat to democracy

Press Release...

February 13, 2008

Gambling a threat to democracy

A book that lifts the lid on the corrosive effect commercialised gambling has on democracy will be launched at the Beehive tomorrow.

Green MP Sue Bradford and the Problem Gambling Foundation will co-host the launch of Gambling, Freedom and Democracy by Peter Adams, Associate Professor of Population Health at Auckland University, at the Beehive tomorrow.

The book looks at how gambling profits create environments that discourage active and critical participation in democratic systems.

It compares the rapid commercial expansion of gambling with other primary exploitative industries like the logging of rainforests which result in complex impacts on the social and political ecologies.

Problem Gambling Foundation CEO John Stansfield says the book is long overdue and helps explain some of the funny things that happen to democracy when gambling is involved.

"Peter Adams offers valuable insight into how gambling is structured to erode community coherence and compromise our political and social systems to the extent we tolerate the systematic exploitation of vulnerable sections of our community," he says.

Mr Stansfield says recent research shows that even charitable organisations trying to deal with the fall-out from problem gambling are at risk of their own staff developing gambling problems and compromising the integrity of their efforts.

"I have been working in this area for a number of years now but I am still amazed and disappointed at how people with the power to deal with the gambling epidemic go blind and deaf when it is mentioned.

"Time and again I have seen good people suddenly develop elastic principles and outspoken organisations become silent when it comes to dealing with gambling harm."

Mr Stansfield says that things are starting to change and as people become more aware of the damage to families and communities being done by gambling they are asking why we don't do more to stop it.

The launch will be attended by MPs, officials and community leaders and Mr Stansfield hopes it will be a wake up call for some of them.

Mr Stansfield says he hopes some of the MPs on the select committee reviewing the Gambling Act would attend so they could better understand what lay at the core of the industry they were supposed to be legislating to protect people from.

"Our lawmakers are lagging well behind public opinion," he says.

"If political parties included attitudes to gambling in their polling they would be amazed at how important people in poor areas think this issue is.

"People know that governments are responsible for letting the gambling industry prey on their communities in the first place and now expect them put a stop to it."


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