New Zealand government invests NZ$76 million to fight problem gambling

By Ralph Trayfalgar, Updated:

The government of New Zealand has committed NZ$76 million to a new Strategy to Prevent and Minimise Gambling Harm, which intends to cover 5 key areas of problem gambling. 

The investment is intended to fund support of the workforce, including peer and cultural support workers, as well as the expansion of digital service offerings.

Younger customers will be the primary target of the educational aspect of the new gambling initiative. A separate program will work to support "vulnerable communities," particularly referring to persons of Maori, Pacific, and Asian descent.

A "de-stigmatization initiative" will also be implemented in order to encourage people to seek help for problem gambling and related harms. 

Andrew Little, the Minister of Health in New Zealand, stated that the funding of the Strategy "aligns our gambling harm prevention and minimisation efforts with the reforms to the health and disability system and the new mental health system we’re building."

It has been identified that real money gambling is a "significant social and economic issue" in New Zealand by the Labour government. It has also been identified as a "equity issue" due to the fact that young people and members of the Maori, Pacific, and Asian communities are disproportionately affected by gambling-related harms.

The strategy will be funded by contributions from the industry levy, with a total cost of $76 million covering the levy term from 2022/23 to 2024/25. This represents an increase of $15.6 million from the previous period, which spanned 2019/20 to 2020/21.

The Ministry of Health, the Department of Internal Affairs, and Te Hiringa Hauora/Health Promotion Agency, who are the three government entities responsible for the reduction of problem gambling, will be in charge of monitoring the plan's execution as it is carried out.

The government added that "culturally responsive" services will be developed in collaboration with affected communities and those with lived experience, and that engagement with "priority populations" will also revolve around addressing stigma and education in schools. 

In order to accomplish these goals, the authorities plan to build on certain enablers, most notably the workforce capacity and capability, addressing cultural and language barriers, developing digital services, conducting 'action-oriented' research, and evaluating ongoing services for continuous improvement.

"The new investment and strategy is about showing we’re serious about protecting New Zealand from these harms," Internal Affairs Minister Jan Tinetti. "Effective regulation of gambling means we can deal with harms, including financial problems, relationship problems, family violence, and alcohol abuse."

“The Strategy to Prevent and Minimise Gambling Harm was developed following public consultation in late 2021 and will ensure that services are co-designed with people with lived experience of gambling harm, service providers, community groups and industry bodies.”

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