Do not expect to play any pokies if you visit the Fitzroy Tavern Wainuiomata on Monday 2nd September. Why? Because the pub is taking the unprecedented step of pausing its pokies for 24-hours. The initiative is billed as Pause the Pokies and designed to raise awareness of Gambling Harm Awareness Week. Record numbers of pokies are expected to be paused as venues around Australia and New Zealand join Pause the Pokies.
Hayden Wilby is the owner and manager of the Fitzroy Tavern, he explained the reasoning behind the decision to switch off all the pokies in his venue.
“We’ve taken part in the pause the pokies campaign for a couple of years now, and it’s time to raise the bar. I know many pubs turn off their pokies first thing on a Monday. It’s great they’re taking part, but I want to challenge them to turn off their pokies for a whole day.”
Andree Froude, a spokesperson for the Problem Gambling Foundation, says Wilby’s actions are positive. Froude explained pausing pokies help highlight how much time and money is spent on them. This is especially true if a player has a gambling problem.
“This is an awareness raising campaign to help communities and patrons reflect on their gambling and to encourage change where gambling has become a problem for the gambler and their families. It also gives us an opportunity to engage with venues that have pokies and discuss the signs of gambling harm, and importantly, how to make host responsibility work in practice.”
More than 60 venues have so far vowed to join the Pause the Pokies campaign. Over 80 venues paused pokies for an hour or more last year.
Froude added, “Rotorua-based One Foundation, formerly First Sovereign Trust Limited, and the Invercargill Licencing Trust, have coordinated all their venues to pause their pokies, so it’s great to see them supporting this important campaign to raise awareness of gambling harm.”
A recent study revealed one in five New Zealanders is affected by problem gambling during their lifetime. Australia has a similar problem, with a 2017 study showing 200,000 Australian are considered problem gamblers.
The Household, Income and Labour Dynamics (Hilda) survey in 2017 highlighted several key issues with Australian’s gambling habits. Hilda showed men are more likely to gamble than women with an incidence of gambling increasing with age.
Men also spend more on average than women when they gamble. Middle-aged and older age groups again top the charts when it comes to net expenditure. Lotto and lottery games are by far the most popular, followed by instant scratch cards. Pokies come in a close third before a large gap in the charts for horse and dog racing.
Pokies are second in the table when it comes to mean monthly expenditure, with almost $125 spent. Only poker, with $150, sees more mean expenditure.
The Hilda survey revealed only 1.5 percent of men and 0.8 percent of women are problem gamblers. This is a small proportion of the population but still represents a staggering 200,000 across the country.
Pokies.com promotes responsible gambling at all times. Never chase your losses and only ever gamble with money you can afford to lose. Gambling is not a way out of debts and a way to pay household bills.
Several charities and organisations are available if you feel you or someone you know is showing the signs of problem gambling. Gambling Help Online offers free gambling support to Australians. They offer email support, self-help services and counselling.
You can also contact Gambler’s Help and Lifeline for free at any time. All three organisations mentioned have staff qualified to assist you and find help if you feel you have a gambling addiction or an unhealthy relationship with pokies or any form of gambling.