NZ Launches Pokies-Pause Initiative

Deanna Hammes - 22-08-2018

Pokies Pause Initiative in NZBetween the 3rd of September and the 9th, New Zealand pubs and clubs will be pausing their pokies for an hour each day in an attempt to raise awareness concerning problem gambling. This will be done in support of Gambling Harm Awareness Week.

According to statistics published by non-profit organisation Problem Gambling Foundation, the majority of New Zealand’s citizens (approximately 77%) take part in one form or another of wagering. According to the organisation, electronic pokies machines are the most harmful of all, and contribute 60% to the issue.

More Than 70 Venues Involved

Commencing September 3rd, more than 70 venues will participate in the awareness initiative. Director of Communications at the Problem Gambling Foundation, Andree Froude, points out that an hour a day may seem like a mere drop in the bucket, and as such, rather insignificant in the greater scheme of things. This is, however, not the case at all. According to Froude, the hope is that by switching all pokies off for an hour a day, Kiwi’s will be forced to spend time with family and friends instead.

In the meantime, Jenny Salesa, New Zealand’s Associate Health Minister, has announced an open consultation to be conducted in order to discuss new strategies for the fight against gambling-related harm. Salesa has pointed out that an estimated 37,000 people living in New Zealand, are classified as problem gamblers.

Special Risk Factors

According to a recent national study, irresponsible play impacts especially the Maori and Pacific peoples. The study also sought to identify specific risk factors related to the issue. Some of the factors identified are unemployment, lower education qualification and poverty.

What’s more, data gathered during the course of the study, indicates that every irresponsible player has an impact on 5 to 10 other individuals, and their quality of life. Additionally, 1 in 12 people admitted to, at some point, not being in a position to meet their financial obligations, or even purchase essential items, due to problem gambling.

The land-based sector does not have the same controls as the online world, where self-restriction limits and responsible player programs are promoted heavily. There is hope that this pause-program will highlight just how important having control is, and how players need to limit themselves in one way or another.