Researchers in New Zealand claim that Instant Kiwi and online gambling games are causes to a rise in gambling harm in the country.
The National Gambling Study, conducted by Auckland University of Technology and funded by the Ministry of Health, is a comprehensive longitudinal study that investigates the causes and harms of gambling. It is one of the world’s two gambling studies that has followed and evaluated a large national sample over time.
The research reflects a drop in gambling participation rates but a rise in gambling-related harms.
Max Abbott, director of Gambling and Addictions Research Centre, said that gambling participation decreased in the 1990s and almost remained unchanged since then. However, the population growth, relapsing problem gamblers and the concentration of high-risk groups that had access to gambling machines had caused gambling-related harms to increase.
Abbott added that games such as Instant Kiwi, a popular scratch card and Electronic Gaming Machines like pokies and TABs were highly associated with gambling relapse and that the risk was particularly high within deprived communities.
“What’s happened is that we have very high-risk groups of people living in areas where there is a heavy concentration of gaming machines.”
Abbott even suggested that electronic machines should be removed from clubs and pubs. Mystery shopping exercises have been implemented by the Department of Internal Affairs to find out whether the clubs and pubs are delegating their legal responsibility in reducing gambling-related harms. The results have been unsatisfactory.
The amount of gambling-related harm is also said to be higher than drug abuse across all forms aside from alcohol.
The electronic gambling machines are a source of revenue for a number of community groups and associations. Abbott said an alternative fund should be established to compensate these organisations that benefit from lottery funds.