Auckland Researchers Conduct World’s Largest Problem Gambling Trial

In New Zealand, problem gambling rates are on the rise. Local researchers want to determine the best possible way to treat gambling addiction, so they are currently studying the epidemic. AUT University has recently published a study called ‘The Effectiveness of Problem Gambling Brief Telephone Interventions: A Randomised Controlled Trial’, which involved over 400 gambling addicts.

This is one of the first studies of its kind to involve real problem gamblers rather than volunteers. Problem gamblers who called into a local helpline were provided with one of four options, and the research team followed up with the individuals afterwards. The options were:

(1) the helpline standard treatment
(2) a single motivational interview
(3) a single motivational interview plus a cognitive behavioural self-help book
(4) the interview plus the workbook plus four follow-up motivational telephone interviews

While the research team expected the recipients of the more intensive treatment to fare better, all participants experienced similar results. According to Professor Max Abbott, who lead the study, all forms of problem gambling intervention are effective.

So, the key is for problem gamblers to seek help. With some assistance, they can overcome their issues – but they have to be presented with treatment options from friends, family members or even casino staff.

NZ Politician Goes to Court to Fight Gambling Accusations

It has been over a month since MP Brendan Horan was accused to stealing money from his late mother’s estate to fund his gambling habit, and he is still fighting to clear his name. Although he has been forced out of NZ First, he has refused to resign from Parliament – and he hopes that he can obtain the information to clear his name and resume his career.

In early December, Horan’s family members stated that he had stolen thousands of dollars from his dying mother in order to spend money on gambling. Phone records showed that he called TabCorp hundreds of times over the course of a few months, but the politician has maintained his innocence.

To fight the claims, Horan has enlisted in the help of the court system. He plans to take legal action against the individual who is in charge of his late mother’s estate, claiming that this person is withholding the information necessary to clear his name. Horan states that his mother spent most of the money herself and that he had done nothing wrong.

Should he obtain the necessary information, Horan could prove his innocence not only to the general public but also to his political peers. However, NZ First may be reluctant to allow him to re-join, as leader Winston Peters has already dismissed Horan for shaming the party.

NZ Politician Accused of Gambling-Related Theft

MP Brendan Horan, formerly of the NZ First Party, has been accused of stealing money from his late mother in order to fund his problem gambling habit. The accusations have cost him his place in the political party and his reputation in New Zealand’s political world.

The crime was reported last week by Mana Ormsby, brother of Brendan Horan. He claims that their mother accused him of stealing tens of thousands of dollars from her bank account in order to gamble, and that she wanted the money returned to her estate. Horan has denied the claims, but this has not prevented his name from being tarnished.

Winston Peters, head of the NZ First Party, expelled Horan shortly after hearing the news. Although Horan has pleaded his innocence, Peters stated that he has sufficient evidence to prove that he has scandalized NZ First.

Phone records show that Horan made 144 calls to TAB over the course of a ten month period while a number of ‘questionable’ cheques have been presented as evidence. Still, Horan maintains that he is innocent, and he has gained the support of the Maori Party. Prime Minister John Key has also stated that there is not enough evidence to prove Horan’s guilt at the moment. An official investigation is on-going.

Problem Gambling Foundation Criticizes Pokies Grant System

The job of New Zealand’s Problem Gambling Foundation is to point out flaws in the country’s gambling market that are detrimental to problem gamblers. The organization is dedicated to bettering the country’s gambling industry by reducing problem gambling rates. Now, the Problem Gambling Foundation has set its sights on pokies grants, stating that the system has failed by creating a dependence on poker machines.

“One of the real addictions that we’ve got in this country are sporting groups and community groups that absolutely rely upon the funding from pokie trusts,” says Graeme Ramsey, chief executive of the Problem Gambling Foundation.

Organizations have become so attached to pokies grants that many are fighting the new Harm Reduction Bill, which will change the pokies grants are awarded. Even though the new bill aims to benefit the country by reducing problem gambling rates, many community groups cannot part with the funding provided by poker machines.

So, it seems that organizations will have to find a new way to generate funding. There are plenty of sources out there, and they will simply have to look a little bit harder to find them.

Does Facebook Encourage Underage Gambling?

Facebook is the premiere provider of social games. The platform offers players around the world a vast collection of fun titles that can be shared with friends; however, there are concerns that these games could encourage underage gambling.

According to NewsTalk ZB, many cases of underage gambling begin on the internet. Although sites like Facebook do not require players to spend any money in order to play, many of the titles are based on casino games (ie. Zynga Poker, Double Down Casino). Children have access to these play-money casino games, which exposes them to gambling.

Additionally, play-money games can be more harmful than actual casino games. Since players do not lose real cash, inexperienced gamblers may develop unrealistic perceptions about gambling.

“They often get onto Facebook,” says Dr. Sean Sullivan. “There’s a huge amount of gambling available on there and it’s called gaming”.

Many recent studies in New Zealand have shown that simply exposing children to gambling can lead to their development of gambling problems later on in life. As such, social games inadvertently contribute to the problem.

New Program Launched to Reduce Underage Gambling

With recent studies showing that some individuals begin gambling as young as ten-years-old, it is becoming increasingly important for the local government to fight underage gambling. A new program from New Zealand’s Problem Gambling Foundation takes to schools to help students understand the dangers of gambling from a young age.

This is an ideal time for a program of this kind to be launched in New Zealand. With the Harm Reduction Bill receiving a great deal of support, it is also important for local organizations to deal with problem gambling in other ways.

The program has been launched at Tawa College. As the program gains steam, it will expand to other schools across the country. It is important for the program to take place in schools, as it makes it mandatory for youth to take part, exposing them to a dialogue about underage gambling.

Navid Foroutan of the Problem Gambling Foundation says that the program will take an interactive approach. It is aimed at understanding how students perceive gambling, so that the program can provide an effective approach to communicating the dangers of underage gambling.

Number of Children Abandoned At Casinos Triples

Earlier this year, a couple were arrested after their five children were found locked in a van while they gambled at a local SkyCity Casino. The case was shocking, as the general public looked on in awe, as a couple neglected their children while they fed their addiction. However, the crime is more common than you would think, as the rate of child abandonment at casinos has tripled over the course of the past few years.

Statistics show that 54 children were left in cars while their parents gambled in 2011. In 2010, the number was 46 and in 2009, the number was just 19. This is a shocking discovery for the general public, as it proves that more parents are putting their gambling habits before their children.

These statistics indicate two things. Firstly, there has been an increase in the number of problem gambling addicts across the country. Secondly, those that are addicted are becoming more desperate to feed their addiction. As such, more children across New Zealand are forced to suffer.

The findings come at an ideal time, as the local government attempts to pass the Harm Reduction Bill. This bill is aimed at reducing the number of poker machines across New Zealand in an attempt to curb problem gambling rates.

Gamble Free Day on September 1st

New Zealand’s Problem Gambling Foundation will be holding its fourth annual Gamble Free Day on September 1st, 2012. With problem gambling becoming a growing problem across the country, it is important to raise awareness about the issue. Gamble Free Day aims to ensure that Kiwis are well aware of the issue of problem gambling, providing fun activities to get the message across.

Scribe is a local rapper who has struggled with gambling addiction and has made it a mission to ensure that other young people do not follow the same path. As such, he has played a large role in this year’s Gamble Free Day. His Scribe With Us Competition encouraged young performers to write songs about gambling addiction in the weeks leading up to the event.

Throughout New Zealand, several family-friendly activities and events will be held. For example, Scribe, Tyree and finalists from the Scribe With Us competition will be performing in Auckland while other cities across the country also host live music events.

So, be sure to take your family out on Gamble Free Day this year. It is a great way to keep your children informed about problem gambling and spread the word about awareness.

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.

Should Casinos Pay Back Profits Derived From Crime?

As reports continue to surface about individuals using stolen money to gamble, politicians have raised a new issue concerning the responsibility of casino operators. They believe that casinos should be financially responsible for the money that is stolen from individuals to gamble, a controversial new perspective.

According to ONE News, Denise Roche of the Greens believe that stolen money should go back to those from whom it was taken. On behalf of her party, she states that casinos are the only ones that do not suffer when it comes to theft:

“The addict is jailed, and loses their job, their family and friends. Their employer can be ruined,” says Roche. “But the casino is better off as a result of the crime”.

The Greens stance has already inspired a great deal of support. Hone Harawira of the Mana Party has already stated that he backs the initiative. He believes that casinos have a moral obligation, and that operators should offer some financial assistance to those who have been affected by gambling theft.