$55m package for problem gambling announced

  • Nathan Guy
  • Peter Dunne
Health Internal Affairs

Internal Affairs Minister Nathan Guy and Associate Health Minister Peter Dunne have announced a new funding package and plans to tackle problem gambling today.

"The Problem Gambling Levy, which is imposed on gambling operators, has been set at 0.9% of the forecast $5.9 billion gross profits from gambling over the next three years," says Mr Guy.

"This $55m in funding goes to the Ministry of Health to fund problem gambling services and minimise the harm caused in communities. It will be used on frontline counselling, including dedicated services for Maori, Pacific and Asian communities.

"It will also be used on prevention activities that encourage safe gambling practices and on scientific research and evaluation.

"Cabinet has decided that the weighting formula will remain the same as for the previous three years. Pokie machine operators will continue to pay the highest share of the levy, as this is where most problem gambling is associated."

Mr Dunne has welcomed the release of the Ministry of Health's Preventing and Minimising Gambling Harm Strategic Plan 2010/11-2015/16, and the Preventing and Minimising Gambling Harm Service Plan 2010/11-2012/13.

"Gambling harm continues to have a significant impact on New Zealand communities, but the funding package and measures announced today build on the Government's commitment to address this issue," says Mr Dunne. 

"These strategies, along with the levy, will help us combat the harm caused in communities by problem gambling."

The plans are available online at http://www.moh.govt.nz/problemgambling


How does the weighting formula for the Problem Gambling Levy work?

There is a 10 percent weighting on the amount of money lost gambling and 90 percent weighted on the number of people presenting to problem gambling providers.  

What consultation has there been?

The process for developing this package has included wide consultation with key stakeholders, including the general public, problem gambling service providers, and the gambling industry.  The process has also included an independent review by the Gambling Commission, which concluded that the funding package is "appropriate and strikes the correct balance".

Who does the levy apply to?

The levy applies to the profits of casinos, non-casino gaming machines, New Zealand Lotteries Commission and the New Zealand Racing Board.

How will the Problem Gambling Levy be spent over the next three years?

$25.5 million will go to front-line counselling services to treat those with gambling problems. This includes a range of services at a national, regional, and local level, including dedicated Maori, Pacific, and Asian services. It also includes a multilingual Gambling Helpline, which is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

$20.8 million will go towards awareness and education programmes and resources, work with gambling venues to promote safe gambling environments, and work with organisations to adopt policies that support the reduction of gambling harm.

$6 million goes towards independent scientific research and evaluation to improve the Government's understanding of the impact of gambling on high-risk populations, risk and resiliency factors relating to the incidence of problem gambling, and the effectiveness of the Government's response to problem gambling.

When does the levy come into force?

1 July 2010.