Public consultation launched into problem gambling in NZ

Ministry of Health seeking input from wide cross-section of society

New Zealand’s Ministry of Health has launched a public consultation for its future strategy to prevent and minimise gambling harm, stating it is crucial it receives feedback from as broad a cross-section of society as possible. The Ministry undertakes a refresh of the strategy every three years and the consultation process will run through to September 21. Feedback received will act to shape the future direction and content of the Ministry of Health’s Strategy to Prevent and Minimise Gambling Harm 2019-20 to 2021-22. Included are draft proposals for the strategic plan, which sets out the general strategic direction and priorities for the government to address the issue. This framework comprises the proposed funding levels for the Ministry, in relation to the gambling harm prevention and minimisation activities described in the strategy. It also spells out the proposed service plan for the three years from 2019-20 to 2021-22, along with the proposed problem gambling levy rates and weighting options per gambling sector. Associate Health Minister Jenny Salesa (pictured) said: “Gambling harm is a significant issue with up to one in five New Zealand adults affected at some time in their lives, either by their own gambling or the gambling of others. Estimates suggest 37,000 people aged 15 years or older are at high risk of harm from gambling or are ‘problem gamblers’.” New Zealand’s Gambling Act (2003) specifies the strategy must include measures to promote public health; services to treat and assist problem gamblers and their whanau – a Māori-language word which loosely translates to extended family; and independent scientific research associated with gambling. Public consultation meetings will be held in Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin. Salesa (pictured) added: “It’s important feedback comes from the widest cross-section of society as possible, particularly communities most affected by gambling harm. That’s why we are also hosting meetings to get feedback from the Maori, Pacific and Asian populations.” has reached out to the Ministry for further information on the process, which it states will particularly interest commercial and non-commercial gambling operators, including the New Zealand Racing Board and the New Zealand Lotteries Commission; member associations such as Clubs New Zealand Inc and Hospitality New Zealand; operators of gambling venues; providers of services to prevent and minimise gambling harm; and gambling researchers.

Consumers in New Zealand spent NZ$2.33bn (£1.21bn/€1.35bn/US$1.56bn) on gaming and gambling in the 2016-17 financial year, up 5.7% on the previous 12 months. Figures released by New Zealand’s Department of Internal Affairs in February showed punters spent NZ$125m more than the previous year.