The New Zealand government has promised NZ$60 million (US$40.4 million) in funding over the next three years aimed at tackling problem gambling, particularly in vulnerable communities.
According to the Associate Minister of Health Jenny Salesa, around 5 percent of the country’s population experiences gambling harm.
“Gambling harm is a serious mental health issue. This work is directly linked to the wellbeing of New Zealanders and supports healthier and safer communities,” said Salesa.
The government’s latest gambling health strategy will include funding for new pilot services.
Salesa said that one in five New Zealanders will be affected by gambling during their lifetime, and while harm has dropped in the last 25 years, the rate of decline has plateaued in the last five years.
She also said she was concerned over the inequity among vulnerable communities.
“Pilot programs that are currently underserviced particularly for Māori, Pacific and Asian communities, will be developed and we will use innovative technology to manage and mitigate gambling harm.”
The cost of the initiative will be covered by the problem gambling levy paid by gaming machine operators, casinos, the New Zealand Racing Board and the Lotteries Commission, she said.