Safer Gambling Aotearoa is an organization that aims to minimize the harm of problem gambling in New Zealand on both a local and international level. Apart from offering online counseling services, the organization also has local service centers available across the country.
In these service centers, you can talk with others who know how it is to live with gambling stress and with people that can give you support and ongoing counseling. All services are totally free of charge and you can get support for your own gambling problems as well as for those of someone else.
You find Safer Gambling Aotearoa service locations in:
Palmerston North and Whanganui
Porirua / Kapiti
Nelson / Tasman / Marlborough
Kindly note that due to the recent pandemic, most in-person meetings have changed to video-streaming meetings instead, which you can attend by visiting: https://oasis.salvationarmy.org.nz/.
What You Can Expect From Face-to-Face Support
Safer Gambling Aotearoa offers multiple forms of free face-to-face support, including specialized Māori, Pacific, and Asian services. Within these face-to-face support sessions, you get to discuss your personal situation with your counselor.
The average first session lasts between 60 and 90 minutes and you can expect your counselor to ask for background information about who you are and at what point in life you currently are. You may also be asked to fill in a confidential questionnaire so that the counselor can guide you through the process of recovery. All subsequent sessions last about 50 minutes and are totally free of charge as well.
Gambling Addiction Educational Resources
Apart from service centers, Safer Gambling Aotearoa also provides a broad range of gambling addiction educational resources. In these comprehensive guides, the organization explains what the odds of pokies, table games, and other forms of gambling are, how lottery draws work, and what the differences are between gaming versus gambling.
On the Safer Gambling website, you will also find calculators and visualizations of how much you spend per day, week, month, or year on gambling and what that amount of money could have bought you instead.
Safer Gambling Aotearoa also has a gambling quiz available on its website which you can use to see whether your or someone else’s gambling is starting to become a problem. This test takes only 2 minutes of your time, is completely anonymous, and will display the results instantly upon completion.
Gambling Addiction Helpline
If you’re in direct need of gambling addiction counseling, you can call the Gambling Helpline 24/7, even on the weekends and during the holidays at 0800 654 655 or send a text message to 8006. Alternatively, you can send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Safer Gambling Antearoa has multilingual support staff available to discuss your own gambling problems or those of someone else with. These support staff members can refer you to local Gamblers Anonymous meetings near your location, refer you to your general practitioner, and/or provide ongoing phone support. If preferred, you can choose to stay anonymous during your phone support calls.
Knowing the Signs of Gambling Addiction
On the Safer Gambling website, you will find detailed information about the signs of gambling addiction as well. According to Safer Gambling Aotearoa and HPA Te Hiringa Hauora, the National Health Promotion Agency of New Zealand, these can be summed up as:
Chasing Losses - Are you or the person you’re concerned about trying to win back lost money by gambling even more?
Hiding Gambling - Are you or the person you’re concerned about hiding gambling activities?
Feeling Guilty About Gambling - Do you or the person you’re concerned about feel guilty about gambling?
Losing track of time - Do you or the person you’re concerned about gamble so much that time seems to pass by more quickly than it should?
Spending More on Gambling Than Intended - Do you or the person you’re concerned about spend more than planned or can afford on gambling-related activities?
Gambling Because of Stress or Loneliness - Do you or the person you’re concerned about gamble because of stress, anxiety, and/or loneliness?
Borrowing Money - Do you or the person you’re concerned about borrow money from family, friends, co-workers, or even complete strangers, without telling the real reason why money is borrowed?
Losing Interest in Other Things - Do you or the person you’re concerned about always think about gambling? (Can be both the last and next time).
If you recognize any of these signs, it is best to call the Safer Gambling Helpline as soon as possible to seek help and support.
Real-Life Stories of Gambling Addicts
If you’re unsure what gambling addiction truly looks like and what the impacts of it are, you might want to check out some of the real-life stories of ex-gambling addicts available in video format on the Safer Gambling website.
Gabriel - describes how he misused gambling to escape all the other things he had to do in life.
Katoni -tells how gamblers can reduce gambling without having to completely stop gambling.
Nicole - explains how she grew up in a family with her dad being a notorious gambler.
Shirley - describes how the Safer Gambling Budgeting Services can help problem gamblers.
Posese - tells how his gambling lifestyle impacted the rest of his life and his family in particular.
FAQs About Gambling Addiction
💡 Why is gambling addiction common in New Zealand?
About 1 in 58 people (54,000) or 0,4% of the entire Kiwi population is classified as problem gamblers. This is mostly due to the fact that over 67% of the population plays video games and is confronted with online gambling frequently. Apart from this, many New Zealand residents participate in the National Lottery.
💡 How does gambling addiction affect the brain?
Gambling increases the levels of dopamine in your brain, a chemical substance that increases feelings of pleasure and suppresses pain.
💡 What causes gambling addiction?
The main cause of gambling addiction is because gambling as an activity stimulates the brain’s reward system in the same way drugs and alcohol do (which is raising dopamine levels as described above).
💡 Can gambling addiction be cured?
Yes, even the most compulsive gamblers can set themselves free, as long as they seek professional help and don’t ‘’relapse.’’
💡 Where to get help for gambling addiction in New Zealand?
There are multiple organizations that can assist you or your loved ones with gambling addiction in New Zealand with the most prominent and freely available ones being the Māori Gambling Helpline (0800 654 656), Vai Lelei Pasifika Gambling Helpline (0800 654 657), Gambling Debt Helpline (0800 654 658), Youth Gambling Helpline (0800 654 659), and the Asian Hotline Problem Gambling Foundation (0800 862 342).
Author: Amelia Smith
Amelia Smith knows a lot about different areas of gambling. She's been our main writer for most things since 2019. She spoke at a big conference in London in 2022 and has been recognized at several industry events.
Last updated 02/12/2022 - Article published 29/05/2021
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