Updated Updated: July 28, 2023

Safer gambling campaigns in New Zealand

Online gambling has never been easier or more accessible. The growth of online bookies and casinos has ensured limitless opportunities for the customer, with fast-paced action available all day long. We are bombarded with gambling and casino advertisements in our daily lives and the list of online casino welcome offers is endless. For most people, online gambling remains a relaxing and entertaining pastime activity, but for others, the fun stops as it turns into a dangerous habit.

For this reason, national gambling authorities all over the world have developed different initiatives to combat gambling addiction. 

The ‘Choice not Chance’ campaign

The Choice Not Chance campaign was recently launched by the Health Promotion Agency in New Zealand to minimize gambling harm. Choice Not Chance seeks to increase awareness of the signs of harmful gambling while encouraging people to take positive action and seek help. As the name of the campaign indicates, the point is to make an informed choice about harmful gambling habits rather than leaving it to chance.

The Health Promotion Agency has promoted the campaign both at a national level and different institutions throughout the country. To raise the necessary awareness, the campaign team developed videos and other materials displaying problematic gambling habits, to show on national television and in other contexts. Many of these emphasize distance or a lack of focus in social contexts due to gambling.

Gambling harm awareness week

Gamblefree Day in New Zealand was originally introduced in 2005 to increase awareness of the issue. September 1st was established as the national awareness day for problematic gambling habits with activities and events hosted across the entire country. Since then, the much-publicized day developed into Gambling Harm Awareness Week.

Gambling Harm Awareness Week encourages community discussions about the harm gambling can cause. With the key line ‘TALK. SHARE. SUPPORT’ the campaign emphasizes how harmful gambling is not just about money. It’s also about relationships, health and social life. And it harms not only the problem gambler but also the people close to this person.

In 2019, Gambling Harm Awareness Week took place from 7-13 October and involved hundreds of community-led events nationwide. The campaign also included the Pause the Pokies initiative, encouraging gambling venues to turn off their pokie machines for one hour during the week. 

During Gambling Harm Awareness Week 2022 which took place from 5-11 of September, a range of activities were organized to promote safer gambling practices like information sessions, community events, and online forums. These provided practical advice on how to gamble responsibly and minimize the risk of harm.

Gambling and mental health in New Zealand

Recent years have seen an increased focus on the relationship between problem gambling and mental health. In 2019, the New Zealand government updated its national strategy to fight and prevent gambling harm. The government has dedicated more than 60 million NZ dollars to the initiative, specifically seeking to improve conditions for Maori, Asian and Pacific communities, which are hit particularly hard by gambling harm.

The campaign is financed by taxes paid by different gaming machine operators and casinos across the country.

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