How New Zealand Tackles The Rising Issue of Problem Gambling 2024 – The Odds Are Changing

gambling addiction

When it comes to countries that have an impact around the world, occasionally those other folks from down under, over in New Zealand, poke their heads up and say “How about us? We’re doing it right!”

From their approach to Covid, to an admirable indigenous culture, and a hilarious advertising scene, the country stands up on its own two feet, despite their tiny population of just five million.

Recently, New Zealand has been at the forefront of some significant strategic changes to its approach to problem gambling.

The Kiwis are known for being fearlessly fun, facing the elements with a smile and a “Chur, Bro!” while kicking off down the side of the mountain.

It’ll come as no surprise that the spirit of fun-seeking would extend to the world of gambling, too, where the thrill of a win can tickle the insides of anyone placing a bet.

pokies in casino

Apart from great fun to be had when playing at no deposit casinos, Kiwis can benefit from endless collections of deposit bonus codes. But, the unfortunate truth is, not everyone can understand the importance of playing responsibly and the potential repercussions of gambling harm.

So how do the New Zealand government and related regulatory bodies promote preventative measures for addictive behavior? This article aims to explore this facet.

New investments into tacking problem gambling

Like the rest of the world, New Zealand has witnessed first-hand the huge rise in gambling spend over the past several years, most recently a 17% increase year on year in the 2021-2022 period.

Physical slot machines not located in casinos, but in clubs and bars around the country, saw a significant increase even beating out this lesser rise. Just recently, reported that gaming machine profits hit $1 billion per year.

gambling problem

In 2022, a new strategy to approach gambling-related harm was introduced by the Ministry of Health. It coincided with a significant rise in investment into gambling harm prevention by the New Zealand government, of $76.1 million over 3 years from 2022 to 2025, a 25% jump in spend over the previous 3-year period. Reforms were also brought in for physical poker machines on premises throughout the country.

The new strategy has a slightly different focus for the next three years, with promises to provide better support services to those in harm’s way, reduce the stigma surrounding problem gambling.

Strategies get more focused on different needs

In the new strategic plan is also a new focus on those communities most at risk, including Maori, Asian, and Pasifika people, as identified in 2020’s Health and Lifestyle survey.

Maori people are over three times as likely to be at moderate risk of gambling-related harm than others, Pasifika people 2.5 times as likely, and Asian people 9.5 times more likely, respectively.

New campaigns will ensure these people are getting the help they need in the appropriate formats and with cultural sensitivity thanks to deeper community ties and outreach.

free games

It is noted in materials that much of the strategic plan is targeted at physical poker machines, and the location of the machines is more concentrated in poorer areas of the country, which raises questions about the ethics of placement.

New rules such as not having machines within eyesight from outside of any venue go some of the way to help stop problem gambling, along with twice-daily sweeps of gambling floors in venues to identify any at-risk gamblers.

In terms of the focus on reducing stigma related to problem gambling, the ministry has identified that for many people, admitting to gambling problems is often far more embarrassing than admitting to drinking or drug problems.

Because of the hidden nature of the majority of problem gambling, this makes it a significantly difficult issue to tackle.

Because many problem gamblers will only start to seek help when issues become legal problems or a threat to house and home, it makes it more difficult to turn around.

gambling problem

Stopping problem gambling before it is completely out of control means that people need to disclose these problems earlier on – hence the campaign to reduce stigma.

The strategy was developed in consultation with the New Zealand people including problem gamblers. The Ministry was not hesitant to remark that problem gambling harm levels had not reduced since 2012, and so the current strategy was clearly not working as it should be.

Wider mental health and addiction reforms

The new strategies across 22-25 also play into the wider mental health and addiction reforms that kicked off in 2019 by the ministry. These reforms involve being more proactive in identifying at-risk people and group, and well as broadening support services to include more channels to more people, particularly in digital support services.