2 Jul | 2014
The lure of Lotto’s big prizes is not helpful to those with gambling problems, says The Salvation Army. People start out trying to win the Lotto Jackpot but end up with a far less desirable prize of a gambling problem they can’t control.
The Salvation Army Problem Gambling service seeing an increase in the number of clients for whom Lotto products has become a problem for them and their families.
“When it becomes an addiction, gambling creates havoc in people’s lives,” says Commissioner Alistair Herring, National Director of Addiction Services. “The gambling of some of our clients has led to criminal offending, domestic violence, loss of the family home, and – most commonly – children going without food and other basic needs.
“Regrettably, some people are unable to buy a simple product like a Lotto ticket without it leading to harm for themselves and others. A Lotto ticket can seem harmless but once their purchase becomes an addiction the results can be devastating.”
Although the major gambling problems in New Zealand are caused by Pokie machines, our Problem Gambling programme statistics show that for some people Lottery products are their primary problem gambling mode. In the past year, The Salvation Army problem gambling programme assisted over 1400 clients most of whom used Lotto. Fifty-seven clients said Lotto was the most significant aspect of their gambling problem.
“It is disturbing to The Salvation Army the Lotteries Commission is pushing retail outlets to find new ways of increasing Lotto sales,” says Herring. “This sort of sales promotion without fully understanding the damage the product can have on an individual and their family is irresponsible. New Zealand is moving toward food labelling that identifies additives dangerous to health. Yet Lotto tickets are sold without any warning that they can lead to health dangers through addiction.”
One of the results of Lotteries Commission activity is that Countdown supermarkets recently started selling Lotto tickets at the checkout. “The effect of this change,” says Herring “is to normalise what is a very dangerous product to the health and well-being of some customers. People should have to make a deliberate decision to buy a Lotto product and not just have it slipped in as part of a normal part of the grocery shop.”
Major Campbell Roberts, Director of The Salvation Army Social Policy and Parliamentary Unit, says that in the lead-up to this year’s election The Salvation Army will highlight a range of social issues for voters and politicians. This will include calling for tighter controls on the retail sales of Lotto products. “Restricting Pokie sales reduced the amount of damage caused by Pokie machines, and we could see the same result through tighter regulation of Lotto sales,” said Major Roberts.
Issued on the Authority of Commissioner Robert Donaldson(Territorial Commander)
The Salvation Army, New Zealand Fiji & Tonga Territory
Addictions Services National Director
Commissioner Alistair Herring
Mobile: 021 164 9037
Social Policy and Parliamentary Unit Director
Major Campbell Roberts