Gambling harm reduction report shows harm and inequalities have reduced

News article

04 April 2019

The Ministry of Health has produced a new report showing gambling harm and inequalities have reduced substantially over the past quarter of a century.

The report, published today, looks at the gambling harm minimisation outcomes that have been achieved since the passing of the Gambling Act in 2003, and the associated harm minimisation activities by the gambling sector, which have been guided by successive Ministry of Health integrated gambling harm minimisation strategies and service plans.

The report, entitled ‘Progress on Gambling Harm Reduction 2010 to 2017’ has found good progress has been made across all eleven of the objectives set out by the Ministry of Health over time.

This latest report is an evolution of the approach set out in the 2013 baseline outcomes report, and is an update on the progress made since the 2013 report.

In that baseline report, 11 objectives were set out including ensuring a reduction in problem gambling health inequalities; ensuring Māori families are supported and ensuring health policy at the national, regional and local level prevents and minimises gambling harm.

In 2016, the Health and Lifestyle survey reported that approximately 5% of the New Zealand population – that’s 191,000 people, participate in at least low-risk gambling behaviour. Of these, 0.5% (37,000 people) fit the clinical definition of a ‘problem gambler’.

The Ministry’s Manager Addictions Richard Taylor says it’s very encouraging to see gambling harm and inequalities have substantially reduced over the past 25 years.

The report has also suggested areas for review, including improving host responsibility practices aimed at identifying risky gambling behaviour and encouraging those at risk to seek help; and relocating non-casino gambling machines (ie, pokies) away from the most socioeconomically deprived areas.

‘We now have the opportunity to reflect and refocus our problem gambling services proposed service plan for the 2019/20 to 2021/22 period. We want to enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of our gambling harm minimisation services and to respond to changes in the gambling environment.’

‘That’s why the Ministry is finalising a refreshed Service Plan which will refocus our services to prevent and minimise gambling harm for the 2019/20 to 2021/22 period,’ says Richard Taylor

‘Research has shown that reaching a plateau in harm reduction is not unique to New Zealand, and a range of explanations have been suggested by researchers.’

‘Countries the world over have experienced it and researchers have discovered a number of possible explanations for this, including the effect of new migrants and a new young population in New Zealand exposed to readily available gambling products and the development and promotion of new gambling products.’

‘It’s really pleasing to see there is a good level of public recognition of gambling harm as well as a good awareness of what can be done to help those struggling and the services available.’

‘Two of the primary objectives in New Zealand’s strategy since 2010 have been to reduce gambling harm inequities and to ensure Māori have healthier futures, through the prevention and minimisation of gambling harm.’

‘We know there’s more work to be done to reduce the inequalities that do exist with gambling harm. That’s why we’re currently working through our refreshed Service Plan, with feedback and input from a large number of interested parties.’

For a copy of the report, please visit Progress on Gambling Harm Reduction 2010 to 2017.

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