New Zealand Study Reveals Pacific Gambling Habits

Elouise Spencer - 04 July 2019

The New Zealand Ministry of Health recently funded a study in the Pacific region. Its purpose was to observe the impact of gambling on youths in the area, with special attention paid to the age at which children are first exposed to games of chance. Two key results were presented. The first was that families in the area often see gambling as a social activity, and the second was that youths under the legal age often participate in betting with close friends and family.

Further results showed that more than 50% of teenagers surveyed, aged 17, observed their parents placing bets. 1 out of every 5 expressed concern about the betting habits of a family member, while 1 in 9 had even experienced some sort of household issue related to games of chance. These initial statistics already raised concerns, but a deeper analysis pointed to a few more alarming trends.

Risks Of Underage Problem Behaviour

Dr Maria Bellringer, a lead author in the study, drew attention to a more serious statistic. 1 in 3 Pacific youngsters had participated in real money betting, putting down money on sports betting or a card game. Dr Bellringer emphasised that the behaviour suggests an increased risk of early gambling addiction. She further pointing out that in many families, sports betting is often viewed as a risk-free social activity, with no conversations had regarding potential long term consequences.

The most poignant statistic presented was that 1 in 62 of the participants surveyed demonstrated problematic gambling behaviour by the age of 17. A number that Dr. Bellringer declared was reason for serious concern.

More Statistics Revealed

More details from the survey highlighted the nature of casino games preferred by teenagers. It seems that Pacific youngsters are most drawn to dice, bingo and online casinos. Additionally; 1 in 83 spent more than 3 hours a day playing these specific games. This is in contrast to the 1 in 3 that placed at least 1 bet a day on other games, and also spent less time doing so. Interestingly, it was those who engaged in Bingo and dice that spent the most money. But the most troubling statistic of all was that 1 in 5 had used stolen money to play casino games.

The information in the survey will be used by the New Zealand Ministry of Health to further strengthen regulations. The report was part of Pacific Islands Families research, meaning that the details will be shared with other nearby countries, including Australia.