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NZ research shows strong link between harmful gambling and family violence

12 June 2017
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Recent New Zealand research shows that family violence and abuse is common in people seeking help for their own or someone else's gambling.

The 454 participants in the study, which took place from June 2013 to March 2015, were clients of problem gambling treatment services (370 gamblers and 84 affected others; for example partners, other family members and friends).

A broad definition of family violence was used in this study including physical violence, coercive control, psychological and emotional abuse and sexual abuse.

Over the past 12 months, half (50%) of the participants were victims of abuse. The most common abuse for victims was verbal in nature (41%), followed by physical harm (9%) and sexual abuse (4%). Slightly less than half (44%) of the participants committed violence or abuse at least once.

Problem Gambling Foundation Chief Executive, Paula Snowden, said the research confirmed that there is a strong correlation between family violence and harmful gambling.

"We know that it is common for violence to occur when a family is stressed because of someone's gambling and this research confirms that," she said.

"Harmful gambling, where the need to gamble overrides all other considerations, can place families under enormous financial and emotional stress and put children at risk. In New Zealand over 50% of harmful gambling is on pokies and many of the machines are in the poorest communities. The machines offer false hope and when hope is dashed it is not surprising that the vulnerable suffer." she said.

The research, entitled Problem gambling and family violence in help-seeking populations: co-occurence, impact and coping was conducted by AUT's Gambling and Addictions Research Centre and Interdisciplinary Trauma Research Centre in association with three national problem gambling treatment providers.

The research was funded by the Ministry of Health and can be viewed on their website.