The public health approach to preventing and minimising gambling harm

Abstract

Opportunities for gambling have become widespread in New Zealand in recent years. There is general agreement that increased opportunities for gambling correlate with increased prevalence of problem gambling. There are various perspectives about gambling which influences the public policy debate regarding the prevention and reduction of harm attributable to gambling. Industry regards gambling as entertainment and an individual's right to choose. Governments highlight revenue that is generated and used to support social programmes, community initiatives and economic development. The media focuses on dramas and sensations associated with gambling. The public (population) health approach focuses on prevention, assesses the risks and benefits of gambling not only for the individual, but his/her family and society more broadly. This presentation will focus on the public health approach, its essential elements with reference to the New Zealand Preventing and Minimising Gambling Harm Strategic Plan 2004-2010 and 2007-2010 Consultation Document. Observations on gambling among Pacific peoples will also be discussed in the context of the public health goal of reducing inequalities.

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