Whakaheke i te whara ā-peti

Minimising gambling harm

Our work supports New Zealand communities to prevent and respond to harmful gambling.

Gambling-related harm is a continuing health issue in New Zealand, with significant consequences for social and economic wellbeing. Gambling is a form of entertainment but, for many people and their families, it can become harmful. Negative effects on individuals and within communities can be widespread.

Around 186,000 people in New Zealand are personally affected by gambling harm.

  • Approximately 61,000 people are gambling with moderate or more serious levels of harm. This is equivalent to the entire population of Rotorua. 

  • A further 125,000 people are likely to be experiencing at least some level of harm (and are at risk of more severe harm in the future). This is equivalent to the population of Dunedin.

Māori, Pacific, Asian and low-income New Zealanders are disproportionately affected by gambling harm. A key part of our work is changing behaviours that place people and communities at risk of gambling harm.

What does Health Promotion do?

Our work focuses on:

  • increasing the number of at-risk gamblers who check whether their gambling is okay
  • motivating at-risk gamblers to use appropriate self-help approaches and seek professional help when needed
  • increasing the use of appropriate harm minimisation practices in gambling environments such as pubs and clubs with pokie machines.

We also manage the Safer Gambling Aotearoa (formerly known as Choice Not Chance, which has been discontinued) website.

Learn more about our minimising gambling harm work

Research and evaluation

Our research provides useful evidence to support the minimising gambling harm sector. This includes gathering data on New Zealanders’ participation in gambling through the Health and Lifestyles Survey and informing and evaluating activities, programmes and initiatives. 

View our minimising gambling harm research publications

Sector support

The work of frontline services is key to making progress in minimising harm from gambling. We support the sector by providing advice and tools to support consistent message delivery at local and community levels. 

We also work in partnership with the Department of Internal Affairs, the Ministry of Health, and gambling venues to develop approaches that improve the standard of gamble host responsibility in pubs and clubs with pokie machines. This work supports the Gamble Host Initiative and develops innovative and effective approaches for training venue staff. 

In your community

Gambling Harm Awareness Week takes place in September each year. It is part of a national effort to:

  • raise awareness of gambling harm in New Zealand
  • provide positive ways for people to help those they are concerned about.

Evidence shows that spending time with your loved ones and sharing rewarding activities is a powerful way to protect them from further harm. Whether it's going for a walk, sharing kai or exploring somewhere new, family members can make a huge difference. In 2018, the theme was “Take time out from gambling, put time into whānau”. 

Learn more at safergambling.org.nz

We have resources that you can share with your community including your family, workplace, sports club, or community group.

Order resources