Data from a new online tool being trialled to encourage people to test their gambling, shows that of the 1028 tests completed between May 2021 and May 2022, 80 percent were positive for gambling harm but only 22 percent sought help.
It’s Gambling Harm Awareness Week 5 – 11 September and The Salvation Army Oasis and the Problem Gambling Foundation are urging people to test their gambling to see if it’s still okay and to seek help if needed.
A recent AUT global study shows most people with gambling problems will never seek help and in Aotearoa, the same estimates can be applied.
Bridgitte Thornley, National Director at PGF Services, says this confirms what is known about help-seeking behaviour for harmful gambling.
“The data we have collected aligns with what the study found,” she says.
“Because of the huge stigma associated with gambling, people can be reluctant to take the first step and seek help and by the time they do they have often lost significant amounts of money, relationships have suffered, they may have committed fraud, and may be feeling suicidal.”
“Our hope is that people check out their gambling before it comes to this.”
The online self-assessment tool is available on either the Problem Gambling Foundation or Salvation Army websites, where people can anonymously test their gambling with an option to talk over the results with a counsellor.
Lisa Campbell, spokesperson for The Salvation Army Oasis, says the online assessment takes about ten minutes and at the end a personalised report is provided which gives the user a comparison of their gambling to other people in New Zealand.
“It helps to identify what motivates them to gamble along with what strengths they have and they are offered the option of sharing their results with a gambling counsellor,” she says.
“The survey screens for gambling harm using the Problem Gambling Severity Index and the gambling pathways model. It also covers confidence and motivation to change.”
Bridgitte Thornley says what is concerning is that there are so many people out there who are experiencing harm but are not seeking help.
“The study showed globally about one in five with severe gambling problems sought help, but only one in 25 people with moderate risk gambling,” she says.
“Moderate and low risk is not “no risk” and these people will be experiencing harm.”
“That’s why it’s important not to use data that only looks at gamblers that present to services such as ours to measure the extent of gambling harm in New Zealand. The true story is that it’s much, much higher because so many people are not coming forward for support.”
The online tool has been developed with support from the University of Auckland and Deakin University in Australia.
Gambling Harm Awareness Week is the major awareness-raising week for harmful gambling in Aotearoa.
The AUT study Global prevalence of help-seeking for problem gambling: A systematic review and meta-analysis can be found here.
For interview requests please contact:
Director Marketing and Communications
Problem Gambling Foundation
09 369 0723