NZ Wants to Spend $55 Million on Harm Reduction

New Zealand has been working hard on its gambling harm reduction lately. In addition to launching a Harm Reduction Bill, the local government is considering spending $55 million on a strategy for promoting safe and responsible gambling in the country.

According to a recent report in Australia’s Herald Sun, the New Zealand government wants to take a new approach to gambling reform. Rather than focusing on betting limits and prevention programs that place the onus on the player, the government wants to place an emphasis on counselling and public health.

Starting recently, gambling addiction is being treated as a public health concern. As such, local politicians want to make changes to medical services that reflect this. This would mean that more counselling and treatment services would be made available to problem gamblers and their loved ones.

Gambling research will also be a significant part of this strategy. As it stands, very little research has been done to truly understand how gambling addiction can be prevented and treated and the New Zealand government wants to change this.

The cost of the new program will be provided by casino and pokies club operators. It seems fair that gambling venues support harm reduction measures, and we hope that there won’t be very much resistance.

Community Groups Will Not Lose Funding As A Result of Harm Reduction Bill

According to MP Te Ururoa Flavell, local charities and community groups do not have anything to worry about when it comes to the new harm reduction bill that could see many poker machines across New Zealand removed. He assures them that they will not lose funding but rather are likely to see an increase.

The harm reduction bill would give city councillors the power to reduce the number of poker machines in their jurisdictions. Unlike sinking lid policies, the poker machines would have to be removed within 12 months.

Since poker machines generate a large portion of funding of local charities and community groups, many local groups have become worried that the bill will jeopardize their funding. However, Flavell states that this is not likely to happen. Instead, he claims that the bill will allow for more funding to be generated for charities and not-for-profit organizations.

As it stands, only a small portion (less than 20%) is donated from poker machine profits to local charities. Under the new legislation, the community could see up to 80% of poker machines’ profits as local funding.