Shine a light on gam­bling

Kapi-Mana News - - NEWS - By AN­DREA O’NEIL

A flut­ter on the Mel­bourne Cup, back­ing the All Blacks at the TAB or buy­ing your weekly Lotto ticket is all healthy gam­bling be­hav­iour, Porirua’s Maori and Pa­cific health providers say.

But gam­bling is a prob­lem for many and com­mu­ni­ties are be­ing urged to start a con­ver­sa­tion about pos­i­tive and neg­a­tive gam­bling be­hav­iour on na­tional Gam­ble­free Day this Thurs­day, Septem­ber 1.

‘‘ Peo­ple have had good ex­pe­ri­ences with gam­bling,’’ says Louis Smith, prob­lem gam­bling ser­vice co-or­di­na­tor at Pa­cific health cen­tre Taeao­manino Trust. Vis­it­ing the race­track as a child with mum and dad is a good mem­ory for many peo­ple, but other seem­ingly harm­less forms of gam­bling can hook peo­ple in and suck their money away. A clas­sic ex­am­ple in Porirua is churches host­ing fundrais­ing bingo nights, Mr Smith says.

‘‘ Choice not chance’’

is the Gam­ble­free Day slo­gan, which is all about dis­cussing com­mu­ni­ties’ gam­bling in a non-judg­men­tal, non-con­fronta­tional way, Mr Smith says.

‘‘We’re not in your face, just trust­ing that peo­ple are adult enough to make their choices.’’

It’s per­fectly valid for an adult to spend money at the pok­ies as long as that money has been fac­tored into the house­hold bud­get, his fel­low Taeao­manino Trust coun­sel­lor Silipa Take says.

‘‘It’s their choice to spend it, it’s their right. We’re not say­ing ev­ery­body is a prob­lem gam­bler, ev­ery­body has that choice.’’

How­ever, he of­ten sees peo­ple who have let their gam­bling get out of con­trol without notic­ing.

‘‘It’s a silent epi­demic and it’s hard for them to ad­mit to it un­til they hit rock bot­tom and the repo man ar­rives. That’s when they re­alise it’s a prob­lem.’’

Peo­ple are of­ten un­sure where to look for help when they reach a cri­sis point, says coun­sel­lor at ad­dic­tion ser­vice Ora­toa Mau­ri­ora Mere Elk­ing­ton. As­sis­tance from a gam­bling coun­sel­lor is free and con­fi­den­tial, she says.

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