Gambling has a different impact on individual communities and that is precisely what is happening in the case of South Waikato in New Zealand. The neighborhood was heavily influenced by gambling which deteriorated leading to financial gloom and various problems among the population.
South Waikato bears the brunt of problem gambling
Now, a new survey has indicated that residents of the South Waikato community have lost more than $8 million between 2020 and 2021. This, residents have confirmed, has had devastating consequences for families. The money was lost on class 4 slots for the exercise and on the 160 machines available in the region.
Other people stepped up and spoke to Stuff, a local media outlet. A unanimous local said they have witnessed the devastating consequences of excessive gambling in their community. She also said her parents were gamblers and she only realized the damage this environment was doing to her when she was growing up.
Having pokies in the neighborhood proved too difficult for the woman interviewed. She told the media what it was:
“’I’m a grown woman now and this problem has always existed here for us. It’s not getting any better; it got worse and worse over time. I’m sure pokies have economic benefits, but it’s devastating families here.
Anonymous victim of the proliferation of gambling in South Waikato, New Zealand
Independent experts on problem gambling tend to agree with the problems reported by locals who are disproportionately affected by the proliferation of slot machines. Gambling and problem gambling in particular have been linked to a higher incidence of fraud, child neglect, job loss, relationship fallout, and even suicide.
In fact, in the UK, for example, of all addictions, gambling has the highest suicide rate due to the severity of its impact on a person’s life over a short period of time. According to one study, 49% of people who gamble in pubs experience gambling-related harm, which could lead to more serious problems.
The woman Stuff spoke to wanted to see a time when the district and community of South Waikato no longer had to deal with pokies. However, there are no immediate plans to suspend the licenses of sites offering slot machines.
In March, a self-confessed gambling addict criticized the security measures in place after he was repeatedly allowed into Auckland’s SkyCity Casino and continued to gamble despite self-excluded. The exclusion included both casinos and pubs that have slot machines. However, the exclusion seemed to fail as the person was able to spend eight straight hours playing the slots.
Slot machines in pubs have proven to be one of the biggest problems and enforcing self-exclusion manually is difficult, if not impossible. That’s why the job is left to facial recognition software, but with only 15% of available slots offering this feature, stories like these are very common. For the people of South Waikato, the proof is inescapable.