Wellington marks Gamble-Free Day - Friday 12th of August 2005

Wellington marks Gamble-Free Day under The Canopies [19.08.05]

"The first ever national Gamble-Free Day will address problem gambling in New Zealand with a number of events in Wellington," says Adrianne Transom, Wellington Regional Manager for the Problem Gambling Foundation of New Zealand (PGF).

"Over $109m was lost by gamblers in the Wellington region last year, and Gamble-Free Day is a chance to remind politicians and communities about the harm caused by problem gambling," says Ms Transom. The amount lost is based on an average of $46,000 per machine in the regions six councils.

The inaugural Gamble-Free Day will be held on Thursday 1st September 2005, a concept born from the 2004 CommUnity conference held in Hamilton. Porirua will host Gamble-Free Day under The Canopies from 11am - 4pm.

Funding has been organised, a programme for the day has been developed and local organisations and businesses have been invited to participate to let the people of Porirua know what our communitys organisations and businesses have to offer to make people aware of healthy lifestyle choices available in Porirua.

"Pokies are the primary reason cited by problem gamblers as the cause of their problem, and that accounts for 90% of our clients," says Transom.

"Last year New Zealanders lost $1.035 billion last year on New Zealands pokie machines in pubs and clubs, and that figure is set to be even higher this year," she says.

"But the economic, social and cultural costs to communities are even higher. Problem gambling can lead to reliance on foodbanks, domestic violence, neglect, crime such as fraud, kidnapping and extortion, and in some cases, suicide."

Problem gambling affects more than individuals. For every person with a gambling problem, seven people are affected. These people are whanau, children, friends, employers and the wider community.

A growing concern is the number of women affected by problem gambling. Research suggests that pokie machines are responsible for the feminisation of gambling, and more and more women are gambling on them.

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"The effects can be devastating.

There have been a number of high-profile cases through the courts in recent months, in which women have committed serious crimes in order to feed a pokie problem.

"Children have been neglected in cars, families torn apart, trusted female employees have ripped off their employers - all because of pokies. This is a very serious problem for women and families, and needs to be suitably recognised."

"Gamble-Free Day is ample opportunity for PGF, problem gambling service providers and concerned communities to let politicians know that we dont want our communities to be harmed by problem gambling any longer."

"It is a day of action which politicians should take note of - especially in election year," she says.

"The Gambling Act and a number of regulations have been introduced to curb the amount of harm caused by gambling. However, only stringent safety features on pokie machines can really work to eliminate gambling harm."

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