Calls for tougher gambling laws to protect Pasifika in NZ

We love our Pasifika brothers and sisters, so it’s extremely sad to read that New Zealand’s Pacific communities experience a disproportionate level of gambling harm compared to the rest of the country. It’s reported that Pasifika peoples in New Zealand make up 21 percent of all people seeking treatment for gambling-related issues (Source: RNZ, 20 Sept 2021). More effort needs to be made by our Government and Regional Councils to protect our most vulnerable from the harms of gambling.

We believe gambling’s harm is not simply limited to financial harm, there are greater downstream issues caused by gambling. This crisis deserves more attention from the Government and Councils. 

Reported today by RNZ (full article here):

Christchurch City Council has renewed its ‘sinking lid’ policy, in place since 2004, which prevents new gambling licences in pubs and clubs from being approved. It also means existing licences cannot be transferred to other locations.

A spokesperson for the Pacific gambling support service, Mapu Maia, Gerhart Berking said Pasifika were more likely to live in areas with higher deprivation and greater opportunities to gamble, navigating factors which contributed to gambling alongside barriers to accessing support for potential harm.

He encouraged other councils to follow Christchurch’s example by adopting the policy to “change gambling environments, because many people live in areas saturated by pokie machines”.

“Pacific are disproportionately affected by gambling than relative to the rest of NZ. We need stronger policies to change our gambling environments… a higher level advocacy.”

Mapu Mai’s only Canterbury-based counsellor, Phil Siataga said gambling was “still a very hidden problem and people slide into pathological harm”.

His concern was that Covid would put “more pressure on people financially because generally socio-economically pacific people’s status is generally low”.

“Pokies are the biggest problem that we see because by the time they get to us there is usually a lot of damage that’s been done.”

“Pasifika are more than twice as likely to experience moderate to severe gambling harm than those any other group.”

So let’s all put pressure on our Government and Regional Councils to solve this societal problem. 

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