In the Waikato, gamblers lost $82 million on Class 4 slots in the 2020/2021 fiscal year (file photo).

KIRK HARGREAVES / Stuff

In the Waikato, gamblers lost $82 million on Class 4 slots in the 2020/2021 fiscal year (file photo).

Online tools to support Pasifika and Maori affected by gambling harms are being developed as the devastation of gambling in Waikato’s poorer communities is revealed.

In the Waikato, $82 million was lost on Class 4 slots in fiscal year 2020-21. This means that 95% of slot machine profits in the region come from our poorest communities.

“Every day $224,756.34 is lost on these machines across the region. That’s about $300 per person over the age of 18,” said Paula Snowden, executive director of the Problem Gambling Foundation.

“Overall, the amount lost on slots increased by 7% in Waikato last year. Nationally, the amount lost on slots is trending upwards and is now rapidly approaching one billion dollars, the highest in five years,” she said.

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LAWRENCE SMITH / Stuff

The basics of slots, addiction and their place in the community. (Video first published on April 18, 2019)

Along with the South Waikato District, the Thames-Coromandel District is a serious concern after losing $11,746,947 in 2020-21.

“We are always concerned when we know that the money lost on slot machines comes from some of the most disadvantaged communities in Aotearoa and the impact is felt by these communities.”

The Thames-Coromandel district has 248 slot machines spread across 20 locations. Of the 20 sites, six are located in the most socially deprived communities in and around the Thames CBD.

The head of the council’s communications and economic development group, Laurna White, said its gambling policy had been revised in 2020 and endorsed a “sinking lid” approach.

The policy shows that no new consent for Slot Machines (Class 4 Gaming Venues) will be granted, and any venue with Slot Machines (Class 4 Gambling Venues) that ceases to operate will result in a reduction in number of slot machines in the district.

The policy also allows for a “relocation provision”, where slot machine operators can now apply to the council for consent to relocate to a new location.

Problem Gambling Foundation chief executive Paula Snowden says the evil of slots comes from the communities least able to afford them.

PACIFIC KANIVA

Problem Gambling Foundation chief executive Paula Snowden says the evil of slots comes from the communities least able to afford them.

The Salvation Army says the overrepresentation of slot machines in poor areas is the result of gambling industry activity and a key social cause of poverty and inequality, which disproportionately affects Pasifika and the Maoris.

“According to our records, we have not seen any tangata whaiora (health seekers) from the Thames-Coromandel district in the past year,” the director of the Army Oasis said. Hello, Lisa Campbell.

However, we have discussed internally expanding our service delivery to the Thames-Coromandel region as this is a potentially high risk location with high losses per capita.

Campbell said to support the Thames-Coromandel district they are working with the Problem Gambling Foundation, Deakin University and the University of Auckland to develop online gambling tools.

“(The) i-CBT (Internet-based Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) was developed to be delivered in conjunction with in-person counseling, but not yet tested. The i-CBT is a bespoke support for tangata whaiora that is personalized to meet the needs of tangata accessing support from harmful gambling services.There are several online game modules that tangata uses at its own pace from the comfort of its home or on location.

“The modules are interactive (using photos and videos), offer tasks to do to reflect on their own play and understand why they gamble and the harm resulting from their gambling behavior and the tools they can use to limit or reduce backlash. Delivery is via a specially designed website,” she said.

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