Shine a light on gambling
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.