The Salvation Army is strongly opposed to the Government’s new Racing Bill. Today, Salvation Army staff will make our oral submission to the Bill. “Harm from gambling is already at unacceptable levels in this country and increasing availability and new products through this Bill will only add to this problem,” says Siobhan Kemp, Public Health Worker of The Salvation Army’s Oasis Auckland service.
The focus should be on controlling the growth of gambling and preventing and minimising the harm that already exists from gambling addiction, not seeking new opportunities to gamble with the associated risks to people and whānau. This Bill increases the risk of gambling harm by legislating a monopoly body (TAB NZ) to have the power to develop new betting products for the racing industry, as well as for other sports. The Salvation Army cannot support this expansion of the gambling industry.
“Approximately 10 percent of people seeking help for gambling issues are suffering harm from TAB gambling. Gambling harm impacts physical, mental, spiritual and social wellbeing, problem debt, family and sexual violence – these connections are clearly proven by research,” says Siobhan Kemp. “How can this Bill talk about ‘revitalising’ the racing industry when gambling spending has increased steadily since 2009, with $2.3 billion spent by New Zealanders on gambling in 2019?”
For these reasons, The Salvation Army opposes this Bill and calls on the Government to focus more on reducing the harm caused by existing forms of gambling, rather than revitalising an industry that is slowly dying and creating more opportunities for gambling and gambling harm in our nation.