New Zealand is home to a huge population of the world’s most vibrant gamblers. The majority of adults in this country have tried their luck in at least one gambling game. The tremendous increase in the use of casino products and player losses has consequently resulted in the rise of problem gambling. The country has reported a rise in the number of people seeking help for this problem and this is a matter of great concern.
What is problem gambling? These are the adverse consequences of gambling that impact an individual’s physical, mental, psychological, social, and financial wellbeing. It is a public health concern in many countries where gambling is legal. In New Zealand, the Gambling Act 2003 charges the Ministry of Health with the responsibility of managing and preventing these negative effects. It works in collaboration with other stakeholders, including the casinos themselves, in trying to deal with this vice.
Problem gambling has been associated with all kinds of gambling activities in New Zealand. The most popular casino games include slots (or pokies free-onlinepokies.com), table games, keno, lotto, instant kiwi, track betting, and others. The dawn of casinos in this region dates back to 1994 and currently, there are six casinos situated in Hamilton, Dunedin, Auckland, Queenstown, and Christchurch.
The first step towards dealing with problem gambling is the regulation of gaming activities by both the Ministry of Health and the Department of Internal Affairs. It ensures that the casinos do not engage in any practices that encourage it. They have also set an age limit that guarantees that only adults can access these activities in casinos. Nevertheless, problem gambling remains rampant despite all the efforts made to curtail it. What are the current concerns about problem gambling in New Zealand?
Gambling addiction is the most common form of problem gambling across the continents. It is so grievous that people often term it to be synonymous with problem gambling, thus implying that it is the only problem. The increased access to gambling products has resulted in the rise of gambling addiction in New Zealand over the past two decades.
There are many signs of addiction. They include preoccupation, withdrawal, tolerance, and loss of control. Addiction essentially means that an individual cannot live normally without playing these games. People can be addicted to a specific game or to the buzz of risking real money.
Preoccupation is a situation where a person becomes engaged in gambling to the point of neglecting other duties. Tolerance, on the other hand, is a case where the gambler feels an irresistible urge to risk more money to achieve his desired thrill. Withdrawal is where a person experiences extreme anxiety when they do not gamble. It is the main reason why addicts find it very hard to quit the vice. Addiction is an old problem but it remains the number one vice in New Zealand. It has undue consequences that result in the deterioration of social values.
Most addicts tend to spend more money on gambling than they had budgeted. This results in financial problems for the individual where they are unable to pay bills. Some also go to the extent of taking loans to finance their vice. When the matter gets out of hand, they can engage in illegal activities like theft, embezzlement, and fraud leading to legal consequences.
Problem gambling is associated with the deterioration of significant relationships. They include spousal, family, job, and career. It is common to find problem gambling as the sole reason behind divorce and loss of jobs. This is because addicts may be too preoccupied with their vice leading to the neglect of other responsibilities.
The financial consequences described above are also a major cause of relationship problems since these individuals tend to use all their money gambling. They often resort to stealing from their wives or their employers to satisfy their urges. Gambling is problematic since it leaves addicts with the promise of getting more money. Hence, they usually feel like they are ‘borrowing’ the money with the hope of returning it after winning. This rarely happens, thus, resulting in problems with others.
Besides, many people find it hard to trust an individual who is experiencing problem gambling. They tend to lie severally to mask the gravity of their problem, which eventually blows up. Their financial management is also quite questionable. This explains why broken relationships is a major concern in New Zealand that is associated with problem gambling.
Association with Other Vices
Another concern that has recently come up is the association between problem gambling and other behaviours like excessive drinking and smoking. Problem gamblers tend to engage in these activities out of frustration or due to the availability of these things in some of these gambling hubs. Excessive drinking and smoking could result in health complications like cancer and liver cirrhosis. They also play a significant role in the financial and social problems that are associated with problem gambling.
Due to these vices, people who are facing problem gambling tend to have undue health and mental problems. They suffer from anxiety, depression, and general health issues. This is because they tend to be unhappy for various reasons, including their inability to control their urge to gamble despite the grievous consequences. The financial and social effects also impact their health negatively. Lastly, the victims of this problem get preoccupied with gambling thus reducing the time they spend on working out and eating a balanced diet. This results in a lower quality of life.
The Problem Gambling Foundation
Fortunately, New Zealand has the Problem Gambling Foundation that is dedicated to the prevention and management of this problem. It is a national non-profit organization that receives money from the health ministry. Individuals or relatives who are suffering from it can contact the organization to get help from professionals. You can contact them through phone, email, text, and online chat for free and confidential assistance.
These are the current concerns about problem gambling in New Zealand. Gambling is a favourite leisure activity for many but the excitement associated with it can be deleterious if it results in problem gambling. You should always ensure that you remain in control throughout your gambling experience. If it gets out of hand, feel free to seek help from the experts.