The Labor government in New Zealand is realizing the urgency of acting quickly in addressing a societal ill that has been putting people at risk. Problem gambling is a growing issue in the country and the government now wants to focus more efforts on ensuring that it is able to successfully minimize gambling-related harm.
New Zealand to Address Problem Gambling
This is an ambitious plan that should help thousands of people at the very least. According to the government, at least one in five New Zealanders is likely to experience gambling-related harm in their life, whether through their own actions or those of loved ones.
As such, the problem is a serious public health issue and can have devastating consequences on individuals. One of the most heavily impacted people has been communities exposed to an over-proportionate share of gaming machines.
This means that the government needs to step up and it is. New Zealand is investing $76 million into an initiative dubbed “Strategy to Prevent and Minimize Gambling Harm.” The strategy comes with several important pivots.
First, the government wants to train a more skilled and diverse workforce and expand digital services and support. One of the best ways to address the problem is through education initiatives, especially any potential harm to young people.
Stigma has often been seen as a detriment to making decisive strides toward recovery as many people felt shame in seeking help. Therefore, de-stigmatization of asking for help when experiencing problem gambling issues would be another pivot for the company.
Harm Prevent Where It’s needed
New Zealand is also putting a focus on the communities it has found the most vulnerable including the Māori, Pacific, and Asian people. Commenting on this, government representative Andrew Little assured that the new funding strategy is well-aligned with overall gambling harm prevention as well as further efforts to minimize potential harm thereof.
This and the new mental health system the government will seek to establish will hopefully start tackling some of the problem-gambling cases. New Zealand internal affairs minister Jan Tinetti added:
“Effective regulation of gambling means we can deal with harms including financial problems, relationship problems, family violence, and alcohol abuse.”
The program is also a show of commitment by the government which wants to make sure that people are protected and they will find help if they seek it. Protecting New Zealanders from those harms is a key priority.
The plan is also based on extensive background research. Another participant, Jan Tinetti, explained that New Zealand conducted an extensive public consultation in 2021 in order to ensure that it will target those areas that need addressing and not pass a blanket program that misfires due to lack of insight.
The program will be funded through the levy paid by casinos, the New Zealand Lotteries Commission, TAB NZ, and non-casino gaming machine operators.