Gaming Machine Association of New Zealand wants improvement from addiction services

By Peter Lynch

The Gaming Machine Association of New Zealand has asked for more proof that the Problem Gambling Levy decreases the rates of problem gambling, as reported by Stuff.

Gaming Machine Association of New Zealand Director Peter Thrush says that the problem gambling rate of 0.2% of adults has remained the same for the past 15 years.

The Ministry of Health has proposed to increase the Problem Gambling Levy to NZ$76.1m (US$50.8m) over the next three years, a rise from the previous three-year budget of NZ$60.3m. This would involve a destigmatisation strategy and culturally appropriate programmes for Māori, Pasifika and Asian communities.

Gambling machines currently pay 1.3% of profits to the levy, compared to 0.4% for Lotto, which is deemed the least addictive form of gambling. Thrush says the new changes could see an extra NZ$8m going from machines to the levy, but first wants to see positive results.

“We are fully supportive of the model and are happy to pay, but our concern is we are not getting good value for the money,” said Thrush.

“We have no problem at all spending the money, if it gets a result. And we are prepared to increase the money if we get a better result, but at this stage it seems the money is disappearing.”

However, Andree Froude​ from the Problem Gambling Foundation, says that the 0.2% figure only accounts for the most addicted gamblers in New Zealand, and that the actual number is much higher, but harder to quantify.

She added that public health measures are needed to reduce harm, with such measures including destigmatising gambling addiction and focusing on those with moderate addiction.

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