4 Jul 2018

Gambling support needed for Pasifika mothers and children

From Nine To Noon, 9:15 am on 4 July 2018

A new report suggests Pasifika youth and their mothers need support to stop the increasing problem of gambling. 

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Photo: Supplied

The just released study, funded by the Ministry of Health and carried out by AUT shows more than half of 14-year-olds have gambled at least once, and over 50 percent of Pasifika mothers in the study gamble in casinos, on Lotto and scratch cards.

The results are based on interviews carried out 2014 and show one in 27 of the young people in the study were problem gamblers, as well as one in 28 of their mothers.

About $600 a year is being spent by individuals in casinos in some cases.

Dr Dan Tautolo directs the Pacific Island Family study, a longitudinal birth cohort study of Pacific Island children born at Middlemore Hospital in the year 2000.

"We recruited 1398 of them in that year, and we've been following them since then, so the kids are now 18 years old … and we've been collecting information from their mothers and fathers as well," he tells Morning Report's Lynn Freeman.

"All kinds of things really, so about their health and wellbeing, their development, how things are going in the household, parenting behaviours.

The study found the number of Pasifika mothers who gambled at least once in the past year increased from 36 percent in 2006 to 52 percent in 2014. However, the frequency of gambling reduced.

Lotto was the most common gambling activity for them, with 43 percent, while only 10 percent gambled on scratchies. Less than 10 percent gambled on each of bingo and pokies.

"For the mothers, risk factors were alcohol consumption, being a victim of verbal aggression or violence, and increased deprivation levels," Dr Tautolo says.

"So, since 2014 when the data was first collected we've seen an increase in those kinds of issues for everyone, and particularly for Pacific people."

"If you're already in a lower deprivation situation you don't have a lot of money to spend on gambling and other things."

He says for young people, gang involvement, bullying at school and having a mother who gambles are the main risk factors for gambling in later life.

"It definitely looks like it's on the increase and I guess that perhaps points to things like the availability or the ability to gamble being so much greater now.

"You just need to look at things like Lotto with huge jackpots that are available ... once people have a go there's the potential for them to become addicted and develop a problem with it.

"I think there is a potential risk there around the rise of online games that encourage you to continue to purchase bonuses or little apps that continue playing and you get rewards.

"I think that in some ways can ingrain that kind of behaviour which can be translated into further gambling on pokies and that, perhaps later on."

Generic gambling

Generic gambling Photo: bondvit/123RF

He said he hoped the study would be used as evidence to drive more services and support for Pacific people.

Part of that is the need for some kind of comprehensive strategy to tackle problematic gambling and related harms for Pacific people

"I guess that strategy needs to consider things like adult education in terms of the influence that parents and other adults can have on the gambling of their children or kids in their household," Dr Tautolo says.

"Also the importance of advocacy, workforce development and health promotion I suppose ... key areas to try and address these issues."

He says the survey itself has been largely quantitative - based on numbers - but some more qualitative interviews could tease out what might be driving some of the differences and help address the needs of those affected.