A spokesman representing societies and venues involved in raising funds for the community from gaming machines in pubs and clubs says claims made today by Professor Peter Adams from the University of Auckland Gambling studies unit are not supported by the facts.
Bruce Robertson, Independent Chair of the sector working party said gambling expenditure has dropped substantially in real terms since 2004, in line with a dramatic decline in machine numbers and venues.
“New Zealand’s machine to population ratio is 1/257 compared with 1/80 in New South Wales and problem gambling rates in NZ are among the lowest in the world – 0.3-0.5% of the adult population compared with 0.8 % in NSW,” Mr Robertson said.
Total licensed gambling spend in NZ has not ‘increased incrementally’ as claimed but rather has declined in inflation adjusted terms from a peak in 2004 by -16% or $426M today.
“There is no link between the charitable model operated in NZ and the popularity or otherwise of the gaming machines. Gaming machines have been reduced from over 23,000 in 2004 to 15,700. The Ministry of Health reports that problem gambling prevalence rates are unchanged from the late 90’s and that over 50% of those seeking help for gambling issues are no associated with community gaming machines,“ Mr Robertson said.
“When given the chance in 2015 to review the current community gaming model a record 29,000 submissions were received in support of this model.
“Gaming rooms were built with the support of health professionals and the DIA as regulator, to limit exposure and reduce the normalisation of gambling. Gaming rooms allow for controlled and supervised spaces that can prohibit access by minors,” Mr Robertson said.
Claims that the restructure of the Norwegian model has let to a reduction in gambling are not supported by the facts, he said.
“This simply led to a major migration of gamblers online into and uncontrolled and unsupervised space. The result has been an explosion in help seeking for problem gambling,” Mr Robertson said.
“NZ has one of the lowest rates of problem gambling in the world and unlike Australia, where machines are operated for profit, NZ’s charitable community gaming model generates a community dividend of over $660M annually, including over $350M for grants and donations and $310M in taxes and duty.” Mr Robertson said.