Responsible Gambling

How to prevent gambling problems

Responsible gambling is a broad concept that encompasses several policies and requirements that apply to gambling stakeholders to ensure they uphold the highest standards of quality, and offer a safe user experience that protects players from the potential negative consequences of gambling.

Being a responsible gambler means understanding the risks, knowing how much time and money it is appropriate to spend, and never letting gambling interfere with personal, family, or professional obligations.

What does Responsible Gambling mean?

Responsible gambling means engaging in gambling activities in a way that maintains your wellbeing and the wellbeing of those around you. It involves being aware of the risks associated with gambling, recognizing the signs of potential gambling problems, and taking steps to avoid these issues before they arise.

Key aspects of responsible gambling include setting limits on the amount of money and time spent on gambling, never chasing losses, understanding the odds of games, and gambling for entertainment rather than as a way to make money.

For many, gambling is a form of entertainment and leisure, but it is important to approach it with caution and moderation to prevent it from becoming a problem.

In New Zealand, the legal age for gambling varies depending on the type of gambling activity. For most forms of gambling, including playing at casinos (both online and land-based) and betting on horse racing or sports, the legal age is 20 years old.

However, for lottery games, such as Lotto, Instant Kiwi, and scratch cards, the legal age is lowered to 18 years. The New Zealand government has established these age restrictions to prevent underage gambling and to ensure that individuals who participate in gambling activities are mature enough to understand the risks and responsibilities associated with gambling.

It is important for all players, and those considering gambling, to adhere to these legal age requirements to promote a safe and responsible gambling environment.

Do you or anyone you know in New Zealand have a gambling problem?

Identifying and acknowledging a gambling problem is the first step towards finding help and making changes. If you or someone you know in New Zealand is struggling with gambling, it is important to recognize the signs and seek assistance.

The country offers various resources and support services to help individuals affected by gambling addiction find the help they need to regain control of their lives.

Helping others

Helping someone with a gambling problem involves empathy, understanding, and taking action without judgment. Encourage open conversations about their gambling behavior and its impact, while also expressing your concern for their wellbeing.

Offer to support them in finding professional help through counseling services, support groups, or gambling helplines available in New Zealand.

Remember, the decision to seek help must ultimately come from them; your role is to provide support and information to facilitate this process.

Signs to look for

Recognizing the signs of a gambling problem is crucial in seeking timely help. Some of the key indicators include:

  • Spending more time or money on gambling than intended.
  • Lying about or hiding gambling activities.
  • Gambling to escape problems or relieve negative emotions.
  • Neglecting work, school, or family obligations due to gambling.
  • Borrowing money or selling possessions to gamble.
  • Failing attempts to control, cut back, or stop gambling.
Mood and behaviour

Changes in mood and behavior can be indicative of a gambling problem. This may include increased irritability, restlessness, or depression when not gambling.

There might also be a withdrawal from social activities, a loss of interest in hobbies or pursuits previously enjoyed, and significant mood swings depending on winning or losing.

Financial problems

Financial difficulties are often a direct consequence of a gambling problem. Warning signs include unexplained debt or financial strain, borrowing money from friends or family to gamble, missing payments or falling behind on bills, and a constant preoccupation with financial status.

It’s crucial to recognize these signs early to prevent more severe financial harm and to seek appropriate help and guidance.

Tools for Responsible Gambling

To promote responsible gambling, various tools and measures can be employed to help individuals manage their gambling habits effectively.

These tools are designed to prevent gambling from becoming a problem and to support those who are seeking to regain control over their gambling.


Setting limits is a fundamental aspect of gambling responsibly. These include:

  • Deposit limits: Setting a cap on the amount of money you can deposit into your gambling account within a certain time frame (daily, weekly, or monthly).
  • Loss limits: Determining a maximum amount of money you can afford to lose during a gambling session or over a set period, helping to prevent chasing losses.
  • Session limits: Limiting the amount of time spent gambling in a single session to avoid prolonged periods of gambling which can lead to fatigue and impaired decision-making.
  • Wagering limits: Setting a maximum bet size to control the amount of money risked on a single bet, ensuring that it remains within a manageable and responsible level.

Self exclusion

Self-exclusion is a voluntary process where you can ask a gambling provider to exclude you from gambling with them for a set period. This can be an effective way to take a break and reassess your gambling behaviors.

Self assessment

Many online gambling sites and support organizations offer self-assessment tools. These questionnaires can help you reflect on your gambling habits and recognize potential signs of a problem.

Transaction history

Reviewing your transaction history can provide valuable insight into your gambling habits, showing how much money you’ve spent and how often you gamble. This awareness can be a powerful tool in managing and modifying gambling behaviors.

Helplines and counseling organisations in New Zealand

For those in New Zealand facing gambling problems, or their loved ones seeking guidance and support, there are several helplines and counseling organizations dedicated to providing help and resources tailored to individuals’ needs.

These services offer confidential and professional advice, ranging from counseling and treatment options to practical strategies for managing gambling behaviors.

Ministry of Health

The New Zealand Ministry of Health funds and coordinates a range of gambling harm prevention and treatment services across the country. Their website provides information on recognizing the signs of gambling harm and offers links to support services. For direct assistance, individuals can access the Ministry’s services or get referred to appropriate counseling and support groups.

Gambling Helpline

The Gambling Helpline New Zealand offers free, confidential support for anyone affected by gambling. They provide phone, email, and text support services, along with online resources. Their services include counseling, crisis support for those in immediate distress, and information on self-help strategies and local support groups.

The Health Navigator

The Health Navigator NZ provides a comprehensive directory of health services, including those related to gambling harm. While not a direct counseling service, their website can guide individuals towards the necessary support and information on gambling addiction and recovery resources within New Zealand.

Website: Health Navigator – Gambling


Oasis offers specialized gambling harm treatment and support services, including counseling for individuals and families affected by gambling, across various regions in New Zealand. Their approach is holistic, focusing on the mental, physical, and financial well-being of those they assist. Contact Oasis for free, confidential help, and to learn more about their services, including self-exclusion and responsible gambling tools.

Each of these organizations plays a crucial role in the support ecosystem for individuals facing challenges with gambling in New Zealand. Reaching out for help is a vital step towards recovery, and these services provide a safe and supportive environment for those in need.