New Zealand campaigners call for tougher gambling laws

Campaigners want more controls on gambling.
Campaigners want more controls on gambling.

Anti-gambling campaigners have encouraged other councils to follow the city of Christchurch’s decision not to relax its current gambling and TAB regulation policies.

New Zealand.- Days after the city of Christchurch decided not to change its current policy on gambling and TAB venues, anti-gambling groups have called for tougher gambling laws in other areas.

Gerhart Berking, a spokesperson for the Mapu Maia, said Pasifika peoples (people living in New Zealand who have migrated from the Pacific Islands) are exposed to an uneven level of gambling harm compared to the rest of the country.

Mapu Maia is an integrated national public health and counselling service for Pacific islanders that aims to reduce gambling harms in the community.

Phil Siataga, a Canterbury-based consultant for Mapu Maia, said that gambling is a hidden problem and added that “people slide into pathological harm”, especially now that the Covid-19 pandemic has “brought more economic pressure on people.” 

He encouraged other city councils to follow the example of Christchurch and adopt policies to change the gambling environment.

Pacific Islanders in New Zealand account for 21 per cent of all people seeking treatment for gambling. According to Siataga, they are more than twice as likely to suffer moderate to severe gambling harm than any other group. 

The city of Christchurch has a sinking lid policy that doesn’t allow operators to transfer their poker machine licences to other locations, but the city still has more poker machines per capita than the national average, with 3.3 machines per 1,000 residents.

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GAMBLING REGULATION land-based casino