Objective: To describe survey findings which measure broader gambling harms and provide benchmark data to evaluate an awareness and education program to minimise harm; part of NZ's public health approach to problem gambling. To assess whether previously reported ethnic and socio-economic disparities are evident when researching broader gambling harms.
Methods: An in-home, nationwide survey captured data from a multi-stage, random probability sample of 1,774 adults and 199 15–17-year-olds. Oversampling Māori (NZ's indigenous people), Pacific and Asian peoples, and people in areas of deprivation, allowed analysis by ethnicity and socio-economic status.
Results: Data show high participation levels; around 8 out of 10 people took part in at least one gambling activity in the previous 12 months. Type and frequency of activities was used to define four groups: infrequent gamblers (60.9%); frequent, non-continuous gamblers (17.6%); frequent, continuous gamblers (4%); and non-gamblers (17.5%). Self-reported knowledge of the signs of gambling harm was high. Arguments about gambling and people going without/unpaid bills provided two indicators of broader gambling harm. Around one-sixth of New Zealanders experienced each of these harms. Impacts were greatest for low-income groups, Māori, and Pacific peoples.
Conclusions: The proportion of New Zealander's experiencing broader gambling harms is much higher than the prevalence for problem gambling. Consistent with other research, results show the flow-on impacts of problem gambling – on family, friends and communities.
Implications: Measures can be developed to benchmark the wider harms of gambling and evaluate public health programs addressing harm at population and sub-population levels.