New results from the latest Health Promotion Agency (HPA) Health and Lifestyles Survey (HLS) report highlight the need for pubs and clubs who offer pokies to up their host responsibility game. Māori public health organisation Hāpai Te Hauora believe the results show that the hospitality sector must do their part to minimise and prevent gambling harm in Aotearoa.

The HLS report reiterate what is already known about host responsibility in pokie venues - host responsibility is not working. The key findings from the HLS depict a trend of non-compliance; of those who played pokies that were surveyed, over half reported that they had no communication with staff and not a single person among this group was spoken to about their gambling, despite 16% experiencing at least some level of gambling harm. Hāpai Te Hauora National Coordinator for Prevention and Minimisation of Gambling Harm, Rebecca Ruwhiu-Collins says, "There needs to be a dramatic shift in how host responsibility is conducted to ensure that our communities are getting the help they need."

Hāpai Te Hauora is concerned about what the lack of host responsibility compliance means for our vulnerable whānau and communities, as pokie venues are concentrated in areas with high populations of Māori. The HLS shows that Māori continue to be disproportionately affected by gambling harm - 38% of Māori that played pokies were experiencing some level of gambling harm, compared to 12% of non-Māori. Ruwhiu-Collins says "Pokie rooms are created to isolate people, which goes against our nature as Māori. We need to change these environments and get people talking."

Hāpai believes that better monitoring and regulation of the industry is needed, with legislation being mandatory, not simply ‘recommended’ or compliance will continue to be low. In the ongoing conflict between industry and public health, the continued non-compliance of industry negates the improvements that public health policy strives for. Emphasis needs to be placed on the industry, not individual compliance.

The report is available here:

https://www.hpa.org.nz/research-library/research-publications/host-responsibility-for-pokies-in-pubs-and-clubs-results-from-the-2018-health-and-lifestyles-survey