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Scrapping funding normalises a serious issue

Scrapping funding to Problem Gambling Foundation normalises a serious issue

March 21, 2014

Scrapping funding to Problem Gambling Foundation further normalises a serious issue in New Zealand, a University of Canterbury (UC) marketing expert says.

The foundation said today it had been informed by the Ministry of Health that from June 30 it would no longer be contracted for the bulk of its current services.

UC’s Associate Professor Ekant Veer says gambling is already seen as an almost non-issue when it comes to social ills, but 10 percent of people have reported that they know someone who has missed a bill payment due to their gambling debts.

``Our research shows that New Zealand has a normalised gambling culture. What that means is that gambling is accepted as part of the culture and the environment.

``It’s justified in a number of ways - from being just a bit of fun to being a strategic investment. However, problem gambling is an issue that is seriously affecting those who suffer from it and their families.

``The addiction to gambling is not simply a case of lacking self control but far more about being ingrained into a culture of gambling. Admitting that one is a problem gambler is a huge stigma. Those who have been working with the foundation are unlikely to simply transfer to a new service provider as the trust they have built up won’t exist.

``Some may argue that gambling pays for itself through taxes and levies or that gambling profits are used to fund various social causes. However, this ignores the social ills associated with problem gambling and the issues that problem gambling has on individuals.

``The foundation were able to address these issues and show effectiveness in their approach. Whoever the new provider is with a better offer, as has been claimed, would find it hard to emulate the mana and social respect that the foundation have been able to create over the years.’’


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