by Denise Roche
The numbers of people presenting to problem gambling services who cite Lotto as the gambling method that causes harm is no surprise given the changes the Lotteries Commission has brought in over the last few years.
Marketing for Lotto has become more aggressive – it’s everywhere – the jackpots are higher and Lotteries Commission gambling is more easily accessible because it is the only form of state sanctioned on-line gambling. (As one wag put it to me recently you can lose the house without leaving the house.)
For a long time Lotto has been seen as a benign form of gambling however the latest figures from the Ministry of Health show that problem gambling with Lotteries Commission products (that includes scratchies ) has increased from nearly 9% in 2009 to over 12% last year. Hauora Waikato, the Māori problem gambling service that blew the whistle on these figures suggests that Lotto outlets are also being targeted to poorer areas. Just like pokie bars.
The Lotteries Commission is also fighting against the Ministry of Health’s suggestion that they should be paying a larger problem gambling levy to recognise the increase in harm from their products.
It’s alarming that a state run organisation is behaving like a greedy commercial operator to increase the revenue from harmful products.
Mind you, this Government has taken a very lax approach to other gambling operators so maybe it shouldn’t be a surprise. (Sky City and their convention-centre for more-pokie machines comes to mind.) It’s about time the Lotteries Commission had a close look at what harm they’re causing and at the very least set up host responsibility programmes like other gambling operators.