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New Zealand Government Urged to Raise Problem Gambling Levy

21 September 2004

NEW ZEALAND – (PRESS RELEASE) -- Green MP Sue Bradford is demanding that the Government urgently raise the level of the problem gambling levy in the wake of the Gambling Commission report released today and the AUT gambling study released yesterday.

The highly critical Gambling Commission report was released quietly without any fanfare - two and a half months after it was completed, and in a week when Parliament isn't sitting. It said the new levy is so low that some contracts for problem gambling services may be discontinued and initial funding is already inadequate.

"It is obscene to cut problem gambling services when only yesterday an AUT report showed that problem gambling is a much bigger problem than previously thought," said Ms Bradford, spokesperson for Gambling.

"Where are all these problem gamblers to turn to when the contracts for support services are going to be cut back or lost altogether due to lack of funding?"

The Gambling Commission report found, among other things, that: * The proposed levy is too low to fully address the true scale of problem gambling. * Some problem gambling services will miss out on crucial funding because the levy is not adequate to meet their needs. * The provisions to fund programmes targeting Asian, Maori and youth communities are inadequate. * The contribution of the Lotteries Commission should be increased because of its role in introducing many people to gambling in the first place, even though few people present to problem gambling services with Lotto as their main problem.

"This report is a wake-up call to the Government to seriously reconsider its commitment to addressing problem gambling in New Zealand," said Ms Bradford.

"The levy must be raised immediately to fund the services that are urgently needed by people affected by gambling addictions. The Government must also lift its performance in meeting the needs of Maori and Asian communities and young people.

"For too long the Government has let the gambling industry set their own agenda. This must change now, before any more lives are ruined by gambling addictions.

"The Gambling Commission was set up under the new Gambling Act specifically to provide independent advice to Government - Government should heed its advice, not try to ignore to bury it," she said.

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