NZ Pokies Create The Worse of Addictions

Pokies addiction

What is a gambling addiction?

It is a mental health issue that is one of many kinds of impulse-control problems and having many similarities to obsessive compulsive disorder. The types of gambling that people with this type of disorder might engage in are as many as the games available.

Betting on buying lottery tickets, sports, playing poker, slot machines, or roulette are only a few of the activities in which compulsive gamblers engage. The site of choice for individuals with gambling addiction varies as well.

Often most people prefer gambling in a casino, the rate of online/Internet gambling addiction continues to increase with increased use of the Internet. Although some compulsive gamblers may also engage in risky stock market investments. Gambling addiction is also called compulsive gambling or pathological gambling.

Who is most at risk of developing problems with gambling?

Many New Zealanders enjoy buying the odd Lotto ticket, playing the occasional pokies game or having a day out at the races. However, for some people, gambling becomes addictive and causes havoc for their family, whānau, finances, work and friendships. You are particularly at risk if you use pokie machines, gamble online or go to the casino often.

Key points

  1. Gambling is addictive so it can easily get out of hand. It can harm you in many ways – it can lead to ill health, emotional and psychological distress, financial harm, poor performance at work or study, relationship problems and crime.
  2. Because gambling is an addictive behaviour, it’s really hard to stop on your own. Get help before things get worse for you and your family. Don’t wait and think it will get better because it’s very unlikely to do so without help.
  3. Losing face and not wanting to admit to gambling addiction is a common problem. It is important that you seek help with a trained counsellor before it gets out of hand.
  4. Often people who gamble are also affected by other mental health issues, such as anxiety and depression, so you may need help with these too. 
  5. Gambling also hurts other people close to you. Every gambler affects between 5 and 10 other people. If you live with someone who gambles, it’s important that you also get help and support for yourself.

Who is most at risk of developing problems with gambling?

Anyone is at risk, but you are more at risk of your gambling getting out of hand if you are:

  • depressed, lonely, or have compulsive disorders
  • use several different gambling products, particularly pokies, casino games and racing/sports betting
  • a Māori or Pasifika, Chinese or Korean man
  • an international student or recent immigrant
  • isolated from New Zealand culture, especially if you have English as a second language
  • gamble $500 or more at a time
  • bet on overseas gambling websites
  • are a substance abuser
  • live in an area of socioeconomic deprivation, where you are exposed to more pokie machines.

What are the signs my gambling might be causing harm?

  • Chasing your losses by trying to win back money you’ve already lost.
  • Finding that when you stop gambling, you’ve run out of money.
  • Trying to win money or borrow money to pay your debts.
  • Hiding your gambling from your partner, family, relatives, friends, teachers and colleagues.
  • Feeling guilty about your gambling.
  • Losing track of time.
  • Spending more on your gambling than you wanted to and needing to gamble with more money to get the same feeling of excitement.
  • Lying how much money you are spending on gambling and how often you are gambling.
  • Gambling because you feel stressed or lonely.
  • Feeling regret after gambling.
  • Feeling depressed or anxious after a gambling session.
  • Borrowing money.
  • Losing interest in other stuff.
  • Receiving criticism in the past for gambling.
  • ambling having negative effects on your health, such as stress, anxiety, headaches or sleep disturbance.

What causes gambling addiction?

What causes gambling addiction
What causes gambling addiction

When you have a gambling addiction, a part of your brain called the insula gets overactive. This hyperactive region may lead to distorted thinking. This can cause you to see patterns in random sequences and continue gambling after near misses.

The brain acts similar to an alcoholic’s brain responds to a drink. The more you feed your habit, the worse it will become.

What are the symptoms of gambling addiction?

What are the symptoms of gambling addiction
What are the symptoms of gambling addiction?

People with addictions often try to hide their condition, but a gambling addiction can be tough to conceal. You would require frequent access to casinos or online gambling pools. Even if you gamble at home when no one is around, your addiction may begin to show itself in other areas of your life.

Here is the gambling addition sign:

  • Obsessed about any type of gambling
  • Gamble to feel better about life
  • Fail to control your gambling
  • Neglecting work or other commitments to gamble
  • Avoiding bills and expenses and using the money for gambling
  • Selling possessions to gamble
  • Lying about gambling habit
  • Stealing money to gamble
  • Feeling guilty after gambling
  • Taking bigger and bigger risks while gambling

With decreasing pokies machines has not impacted problem gamblers

With decreasing pokies machines has not impacted problem gamblers
With decreasing pokies machines has not impacted problem gamblers

These machines are the crack cocaine of gambling. They are designed to be incredibly addictive, but unlike drugs, they’re seldom vilified because the pain and suffering they create are less obvious to the casual observer. The product of these machines is crime, depression, family break-ups, violence, suicide, drug, and alcohol abuse.

As a gambler, you promise yourself you’ll never go back, then before you know it you’re there again. Once you’re there, the only time you get off your seat is to go and withdraw more money, probably from a credit card that will leave you with crippling debt.

You tell yourself lies that you can get out of the debt by beating the addiction. You lie to those you love, the shame and disgrace driving you to go great lengths to cover up the addiction. Often this only results in more credit cards and deeper debt.

The fact a percentage of the funds from the pokies are distributed by Trusts to community groups and sports teams seems to rationalize their existence and make many turn a blind eye to the absolute path of destruction left in their wake. This is absolutely ludicrous.  The pubs and clubs charged with regulating and policing the use of the machines are the ones who also benefit the most from their high volume of usage. Without problem gamblers, their pokie profits would be close to nothing.

How to get rid of gambling addiction

How to get rid of gambling addiction
How to get rid of gambling addiction

Many experts suggest getting rid of pokies altogether from pubs and TABs. If that happened, it would contribute to a heavy reduction in crime, violence in general, depression, family break-ups, and suicides in New Zealand. If a pub cannot survive without the income from pokies and the toll of human misery that comes with them then the pub is not a viable business in the first place. No pub owner that has pokies on their premises can honestly say they do not have problem gamblers, and that the bulk of the pokie take does not come from these people. The tidal wave of misery the machines create far outweighs any positives they bring.

Politicians and the public need to wake up and realize pokies are a massive problem in New Zealand that has been left to run riot for too long. They are simply everywhere and it is time for serious change. Pokies are an evil scourge on our society. The social issues they create are comparable to those arising from drugs and alcohol, and it’s time they received the same attention.

If you think you are one of the players who is facing pokies addictions, you need help and counseling. You can contact the following immediately:

  • Addiction Advice and Assessment Services 03 548 2230
  • 24-hour Helpline 0800 654 655
  • Maori Gambling Helpline 0800 654 656
  • Pasifika Gambling Helpline 0800 654 657
  • Youth Gambling Helpline 0800 654 659
  • Gambling Debt Helpline 0800 654 658
  • Problem Gambling Foundation 0800 66 42 62
  • Salvation Army Oasis 0800 53 00 00


Gambling addiction is a growing public health issue in New Zealand. As stated by the National Gambling Study of 2014, the individuals who are considered to be high risk or problem gamblers spend more on the total Class 4 gambling. That is the reason the country offers a strong study to understand the impact of local government strategy responding the gambling-related harm.

The expected impacts of this addiction is going to cost huge on the number of Class 4 venues, EGMs, and machine spending. Apart from having many policy interventions, controlling the age and gender in each TA is also an effective measures to promote responsible gambling. The minimum legal age for gambling in Europe is, in general, is 18 whereas the NZ gambling age is 18 for EGMs outside and 20 for casinos. This means that the legal age for gambling varies depending on the gambling activity.