While most New Zealanders were out buying a ‘Big Wednesday’ ticket last week it is pokie machines people should really be aware of, health promoter Hinenui Wano-Bryant says.
Lotto products continue to be the most popular form of gambling in Aotearoa/New Zealand, however it is pokies or class 4 gaming machines that cause the most harm. Pokie machines are designed to make players feel they have almost won or that they can influence the outcome of the game. This can encourage people to play more often or spend more time and money than they can afford, which can ultimately lead to a gambling problem.
For over 54,000 New Zealanders problem gambling is a significant problem. Problem gambling can also have a devastating effect on families and loved ones, which can include lying and stealing, financial issues including the inability to pay for rent/mortgage, children going without necessities/food and committing fraud/crime in order to continue gambling.
Wano-Bryant says, “The simple truth is that pokie machines can be highly addictive, and millions of dollars are lost every year. Over $16 million is lost within the New Plymouth district with $1.9 million of that coming from Waitara”.
Wano-Bryant hopes that by educating people on the local situation they will become more involved in policies around gambling. “Councils create policies on how many gaming machines will operate in the district. The NZ ratio of pokies to people in well-off areas is 1 to 465, but the ratio of pokies to people in less wealthy areas is 1 to 76”.
Health and social services provider Tui Ora is giving away re-useable shopping bags to help raise awareness of problem gambling. These bags, available from Waitara Alive, contain information on problem gambling.
People interested in problem gambling workshops can contact Hinenui Wano-Bryant at Tui Ora on (06) 759 4064 or [email protected]
For free, confidential professional counselling please phone Sandi Cummings at the Problem Gambling Foundation on 0800 664 262.