Saturday, June 15, 2024

Govt gambling on pokies review to address harm minimisation

A review of pokie machine regulations for harm minimisation will help support vulnerable communities, Internal Affairs Minister, Jan Tinetti said today.

The review of Class 4 gambling machines, which is now underway, aims to target and reduce harm experienced by some people who use pokies and their loved ones.

“Pokies are known to be the most harmful form of land-based gambling in Aotearoa, and this review will target ways to reduce harm experienced by people who use pokies and those close to them,” Minister Tinetti said.

“Harmful pokies gambling accounts for the majority of referrals to gambling treatment providers, and for much of the second-hand gambling harm experienced by a gambler’s whānau and friends.”

Data from the 2020 Health and Lifestyles Survey indicates that about 10% of New Zealanders play pokies, with one in five players considered to be at-risk from gambling harm.

“The review will bring greater clarity around what venues need to recognise and manage at-risk gamblers, how pokie machine features can assist, and enforcement tools for non-compliance with gambling harm minimisation rules,” the Minister said.

For example:

  • more prescriptive tools to help venue staff to identify concerning gambling behaviour; and
  • making changes to some of the machine’s features to discourage continuous, harmful gambling.

“Gambling harm tends to affect those who can least afford it and may already be experiencing social or financial challenges. This includes our Māori and Pacific communities. Gambling can not only lead to debt, but financial hardship, family violence, relationship strain and difficulties sustaining employment, among other harms.”

“We encourage any community or individual who wishes to get involved with the review to have their say, by providing feedback and ideas on the proposed changes.

“We have the chance to create serious change. Feedback from public consultation in addition to harm treatment providers, societies and gambling venues will help us create regulations informed by gamblers, their whānau and friends, and people who work with those experiencing harm,” Ms Tinetti said.

Public consultation began today and will run for six weeks. Head to www.dia.govt.nz/reducingpokiesharm to read the public discussion document, including quick-reads in a number of languages.

This work aligns with the Government’s current Strategy to Prevent and Minimise Gambling Harm 2022/23 to 2024/25.

Minister Tinetti said she seeks to have more appropriate harm minimisation regulations for pokies in place in the first half of 2023.

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