The Salvation Army is concerned at the rise in the number of online gambling sites that have appeared since last week’s nationwide lockdown came into force.
As the organisation continues to support people struggling with addiction through the lockdown, Lisa Campbell, The Salvation Army National Operations Manager – Oasis says she is concerned about rising levels of online gambling over this lockdown period, as pokie venues and casinos have had to close, along with the online availability of NZ Lotto and TAB services.
“I have seen overseas online gambling companies advertise on Facebook over the past couple of days,” Lisa says.
“I am sure they see social isolation as a great opportunity to expand business without any thought for the additional harm this could cause, further exacerbating the financial and mental harm on people already.”
Oasis is currently compiling information on online blocking tools that people can use to block internet gambling sites. Staff are contacting current clients about the remote sessions.
“We have heard from some clients who say they are really concerned about how they will cope, both financially and practically, at home with family or alone during the lockdown period, and are feeling very anxious, so some have asked for more support than normal,” Lisa says.
National Addiction, Supportive Accomodation and Reintegration Services Director Lt-Colonel Lynette Hutson says The Salvation Army is also encouraging those needing support through drug and alcohol addiction, to reach out via phone or at salvationarmy.org.nz
“We are concerned many people suffering from addictions may be feeling very alone at this time. The Salvation Army continues to support people online and over the phone. We want to make sure people have access to the help they need,” she says.
There is also a danger that people may slide into heavy drinking when at home alone, to pass the time.
“We’re here on the end of the phone for anyone who is feeling as if they may be getting into trouble with this or other drug use,” Lt-Colonel Hutson says.
“We know people feel stigma. The Salvation Army doesn’t judge. We help without bias and we are here to support anyone, no matter what the circumstances.”
Bridge Residential services continue and can be contacted by phone or email for referrals.
Please visit www.salvationarmy.org.nz/Bridge for more information, or phone 0800 53 00 00.
Supportive Accommodation/Transitional Housing services continue to operate across the country for those already in residence. Limited referrals may be considered, depending on availability of services. Visit https://www.salvationarmy.org.nz/housing for more information.
Visit www.salvationarmy.org.nz/oasis for direct access to our Oasis services or follow us on Facebook at OasisReducingGamblingHarm.
The Salvation Army Reintegration Services are also operating to support those released from prison.