Health and Lifestyle Survey – Monitoring gambling harm and knowledge

The most complete set of information about the incidence and prevalence of gambling harm in the total New Zealand population, and people’s gambling knowledge and behaviours, is captured by the Health Promotion Agency Health and Lifestyles Survey.

The Health Promotion Agency Health and Lifestyle Survey Gambling Module – Incidence and prevalence of gambling harm and behaviour in the total New Zealand population

The Health and Lifestyles Survey (HLS) is conducted every two years and is a nationally representative, face-to-face, in-home survey that facilitates the monitoring of a range of health behaviours and attitudes (including gambling) of New Zealanders aged 15 years and over.

The 2016 HLS gambling questions were designed to assess experience, knowledge and opinions about gambling and gambling-related harm among New Zealand adults, both overall and among different social and population groups. Where relevant, results are compared with those from earlier surveys.

In 2016 survey results (which are the most recent available), are comparable to the 2006/07 Gaming and Betting Activities Survey (GBAS), a benchmark survey carried out to inform the development of a national health promotion programme aimed at reducing gambling harm. The majority of the 2016 gambling section questions were also comparable with those in the 2008, 2010, 2012 and 2014 surveys. A full methods report can be found on the Health Promotion Agency website.

Because of the design features of the HLS, it provides the best source of information about the incidence and prevalence of gambling harm in the total New Zealand population.

Key results on gambling participation and harm from the 2016 HLS

Participation

  • In 2016, approximately 2.7 million New Zealanders aged 15 years and older (70% of respondents) participated in some form of gambling in the past 12 months. The overall past-year gambling rate has decreased from 2006/07 but has remained unchanged since 2012.
  • There was a reduction in gambling participation between 2006/07 and 2016 across all age groups, with 15 to 17 year olds exhibiting the greatest reduction in gambling participation and people aged 45 years and over showing the least reduction. There were also decreasing time trends in the gambling participation rates for Māori and Pacific peoples.

Harm

  • Around 5% (~186,000 New Zealand adults) of respondents reported experiencing at least some level of individual gambling harm as measured by the PGSI.
    • 3% (around 125,000 people) met the PGSI criteria for ‘low-risk gambling’ (‘low-risk gamblers’ may be experiencing some degree of harm or negative consequences from their gambling).
    • 1.5% (around 55,000 people) met the PGSI criteria for ‘moderate-risk gambling’ (‘moderate-risk gamblers’ are likely to be experiencing some harm leading to negative consequences).
    • 0.1% (around 6,000 people) met the PGSI criteria for ‘problem gambling’ (‘Problem gamblers’ will be gambling with negative consequences and possible loss of control). Statistically, there is considerable variation around this result. Meta-analysis that pools the 2016 results with previous results indicates that around 0.5% of people in the total population meet the ‘problem gambling’ criteria.
  • Time series analysis shows that these levels of gambling harm have been relatively static for the last seven years. This phenomena is not unique to New Zealand and a number of explanations have been suggested for it.

The full results of the 2016 HLS gambling results can be found on the Health Promotion Agency website.

It is recommended that the findings from the suite of HLS Gambling reports be read in conjunction with the suite of National Gambling Study (NGS) gambling reports.

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