Problem Gambling In New Zealand – The Definitive Guide

Image credit: Nik Shuliahin/UnSplash

Whilst for most people, online gambling and roulette is fun and harmless, for some people gambling has serious consequences. It’s really important to understand what it means, what to watch out for, and where to get help. Read on to find out more about gambling issues in NZ.

What Is Problem Gambling?

Wikipedia defines problem gambling as “repetitive gambling behavior despite harm and negative consequences”. It’s worth remembering that problem gambling doesn’t just affect the gambler – it also affects their loved ones, family and friends. It also affects things like finances and work, not to mention mental well-being and self-esteem.

Problem Gambling In New Zealand – At A Glance

Image/chart credit: Ministry Of Health NZ
Image/chart credit: Ministry Of Health NZ

What Are The Warning Signs Of Problem Gambling?

The warning signs that may show someone is a ‘problem gambling’ include:

  • Trying to reduce the amount of gambling but not being able to
  • Playing with more money than you should (i.e. outside of your ‘bankroll’)
  • Borrowing or even stealing money to gamble with
  • Not finding it fun any more but feeling compelled to gamble anyway
  • Lying to people about your gambling
  • Your relationships being affected
  • Your work being affected
  • Mental health issues like irritability, anxiety or anger
  • Being in denial about your issues
  • Feeling like gambling has taken over your life
  • Continually chasing losses

What Causes Problem Gambling?

The causes of problem gambling are varied but include:

  • A need or perceived need for more money
  • Chasing the ‘high’ of winning
  • Losing money then repeatedly trying to win it back
  • A reliance on gambling to relieve issues like boredom, frustration or loneliness
  • Hereditary factors (an interesting study here)

Where Can I Get Help In New Zealand?

Luckily there are many organisations that help problem gamblers from New Zealand. These normally operate at a regional level providing help to residents in that specific area.


Problem Gambling Foundation

The PGF is a fantastic organisation providing support and help via various channels. This is offered not just for the person who is having issues, but also for people who care about them and want to help. I’m particularly impressed by their ‘resource‘ area which covers tons of areas you might not even have thought about – for example editing your Facebook ad settings.

Salvation Army

The Salvation Army run ‘Oasis‘ which is somewhere you can get support for anyone worried about gambling harm. Oasis can find services and therapies for you, with self-exclusion, and many others. They have centres in many parts of New Zealand.

Gambling Helpline – Māori

This is a freephone support line offering support via Māori counsellors.

Debt Gambling Helpline

This is specifically for people that have debts as a result of problem gambling. They’re super supportive and can help with things like budgeting, finding counselling and tons more.

Find a full list of services here.

What Is Self-Exclusion?

Self exclusion is where someone chooses to exclude themselves from gambling. It’s voluntary and is initiated by the gambler. The Gambling Act 2003 allows anyone to basically ban themselves from going into a casino, or any venue like a pub that might have pokie machines.
You can choose to do this for a single venue, or utilise ‘Multi-Venue Exclusion‘ to do self-exclusion in bulk.

The Gambling Act 2003 allows any person who wishes to do so to exclude themselves from entering the gambling area of a casino or any pub, club or hotel with pokie machines.”

– PGF.nz

For online self exclusion it’s different – you’ll need to ask each online casino you have an account with to prevent you playing.

Problem Gambling Statistics & Facts

Is There A Test For Problem Gambling

Yes, tests for it are available from a few sites:


FAQs About Problem Gambling

Is problem gambling a disorder?

Yes, it’s considered a disorder as it’s behaviour in a repeated pattern demonstrated by their loss of control, gambling even if there are negative outcomes, and constantly thinking about gambling. ‘Gambling disorder’ is also called ‘compulsive gambling’ and ‘problem gambling’ – they’re all basically the same thing.

How do I deal with a gambling problem?

There are a few ways for problem gamblers to get help. Probably the start is to recognise and acknowledge there’s a problem. Then the ways forward include:
1) Therapy – counselling, psychotherapy
2) Support groups (in person and online)
3) Self-exclusion
4) Finding other activities that are pleasurable
5) Handling stress better
6) Understand and deal with your triggers
7) Talk to your family, friends and loved ones for support

Can I report someone who has a problem with gambling?

No – as they’re not doing anything illegal. You can however get help and input from one of the various helplines or organisations who can give you ideas of how to help the person you’re worried about.