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Going to the market for gambling services short-sighted

Going to the market for gambling services short-sighted

The Ministry of Health needs to provide a more robust explanation for its decision not to renew its contract with the Problem Gambling Foundation (PGF) than just that it got a better offer, says the Public Health Association (PHA).

“The Ministry denies it has cancelled the contract due the PGF’s outspoken criticism of government policy, and we have to take that at face value,” says PHA Chief Executive Warren Lindberg. “But the question then arises, why take gambling services to the market in the first place ­– especially when the Ministry has offered the Salvation Army exactly what it was paying the PGF?”

Mr Lindberg said gambling has come to be known as one of the ‘wicked problems’ we face as communities – alongside tobacco, alcohol, sexual health and suicide. ‘Wicked problems’ have multiple causes, mainly affect already disadvantaged communities, have no simple solutions and require long-term thinking, vision and skill.

“So it’s not a simple shopping expedition and there’s much more to the problem than price. The PGF is a highly respected organisation around the world and one that many countries envy for its effectiveness in reducing gambling harm. It has a skilled workforce and multi-faceted strategies already in place that have been developed over some time.

“These are incredibly valuable assets and to discard them now and start again is a waste of intellectual capacity and a waste of past investment in an organisational infrastructure that is already there and working. Throwing all this away because a better deal has come along is short-sighted.”

Mr Lindberg said that, in light of the move, it’s no wonder the public health sector is currently fragmented, nervous and wary of long-term planning.

“The Government has signed the Kia Tutahi Agreement which is meant to build mutual respect and partnership between itself and non-government sectors. But, so casually setting aside the kind of investment in excellence that has characterised the PGF, and squandering the employment of so many skilled people, are perpetual reminders that no services contracted with public money can be taken for granted.”


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