What is of concern, however, is the exposure to gambling and normalisation of gambling activities at a young age, and the level of gambling-related harm the group faced. At a rate of once or twice in the past year: one in five were worried about their parents’ gambling; one in nine had experienced negative effects such as arguments at home; 11% had gone without something they needed; just under 10% had a household bill go unpaid; and a small percentage had a parent who committed a crime as a result of gambling.
RNZ has taken particular interest in the report and called Pesio Ah-Honi as an expert phone guest on The Panel. National Director for Mapu Maia – an organisation providing support to members of the Pacific community experiencing gambling harm – Pesio described how normalisation occurs in familial and social settings. Dice games at school, housie and bingo were all activities which accustomed children to gambling. Not terribly damaging in and of themselves, it is when more harmful forms of gambling are encountered that normalisation can put people at risk.
Not all gambling is the same. This is what I gathered from Graham Aitken, Director Strategy and Policy for PGF Group, when I asked for his opinion. He advised against treating gambling as one entity because that hides the distinct nature of each of them. Some gambling activities carry considerable risk and are consequently age restricted. Pub pokies, scratch cards and TAB betting are illegal for anyone under 18 and you need to be 20 to enter a casino.
What is so valuable about a snapshot at 17 is the illustration of gambling behaviour across the transition into adulthood, and impact on those who take a familiarity of gambling with them. There is no doubt the younger generation are technologically savvy; in the face of new gambling products and modes of access they will also need to be wary.
Now that we know significantly more about when and how Pacific youth are gambling, it could be prudent to next look closely at individual gambling products, their marketing, and availability.
Tom Irwin is the resident librarian and research extraordinaire at the Problem Gambling Foundation of New Zealand. For enquiries about our blog please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.