The statistics came as a result of a study performed by the Auckland University of Technology, which in turn was completely funded by the New Zealand Ministry of Health. Upon the results being released, much attention was drawn to the truth of the matter; Maori citizens seemed to be at an overall bigger risk of falling into gambling addiction than other ethnic groups in the country.
Taking a Proactive Stance
Professor Max Abbot, head of the Gambling and Addictions Research Centre, echoed the findings. He stated that more must be done in order to address what is a growing problem, and that work is needed to counteract the rates of relapses suffered by recovering addicts. He also made clear that harmful gambling was directly linked to depression and substance abuse.
A deeper analysis of the report further shows that although the number of poker machines has decreased overall in New Zealand since the adoption of new legislation in 2003, that the focus of the remaining machines has clearly remained directly on poorer communities. Furthermore, the reports find, that there has been a distinct lack of dutiful caring by club owners in which machines are housed, which is another aspect of the new legislation.
Calling For A Ban
Lance O’Sullivan, doctor and aspiring politician, called for a total ban of poker machines in New Zealand. He made the statement after claiming to have witnessed the impact of problem gambling on the Kaitaia community. O’Sullivan declared that the harm caused by gambling consoles was a direct reflection of poverty, mental health issues, and housing inequality.
Backing the words of O’Sullivan, Lance Norman, Chief Executive Officer of Hāpai te Hauora, declared that Maori communities were being directly targeted, with the presence of gambling consoles drastically disproportionate to the rest of the country. The exact statistic of this is that in wealthier areas of New Zealand there are roughly 1 console to 465 people. While in poorer areas the number was about 1 for every 75. Numbers that are very difficult to ignore.
There is no word yet on if more proactive steps are going to be taken in order to address the situation pointed out by the Ministry of Health funded study.
Online Offers Better Control
One thing that has to be noted is that the stats largely stem from land based gambling rather than online. In the online arena it is true that better responsible gambling controls are in place, and this is something that the land based industry needs to consider and perhaps look at implementing in their own way.