Undoubtedly gaming machines do have their detractors, most of who focus purely on the negative aspect of problem gambling and tend to overlook the fact that New Zealand is one of the few jurisdictions anywhere in the world where the community benefits from the profits derived from gaming machines operated in the pubs and clubs sector.
Whilst statistics gathered over a number of years tend to suggest that problem gambling is not as widespread as some would have many of us believe, TTCF wholeheartedly accepts its role in proactively identifying people who are either at risk of developing undesirable gambling tendencies and/or are already displaying concerning patterns of behaviour.
TTCF does everything within its powers to ensure that people using our gaming machine facilities have both a safe and an enjoyable experience. We have developed a comprehensive set of policies that include a 20 point checklist which highlights all the traits of a problem gambler.
We also ask each of our venues to come up with a set of in-house initiatives that are tailored to their particular operation. Each of our venues are provided with a folder that contains all of the necessary information and documentation and our Area Managers regularly check to see that it is up to date and readily available for staff to use.
VENUE OPERATOR ROLE
Venue operators are required to have on duty at all times at least one staff member that is qualified in the basics of being able to identify and deal with potential problem gambling issues while our gaming machines are being operated. These staff members are expected to regularly monitor the patrons using our gaming machine facilities.
As a matter of course TTCF provides venues with signage and brochures highlighting a range of options regarding problem gambling treatment providers and their contact details and these are available in or near each of our gaming machine facilities.
Staff members are not trained counsellors but they are at least able to encourage patrons to speak to someone that is. If a patron requests assistance in completing a Self Exclusion Order invariably these staff members are able to support them through the process, which bans them voluntarily from using the venue’s gaming machine facility for a period of up to 2 years and during this time the individual is expected to undergo some form of treatment for their problem.
TTCF also cooperates with a number of service providers who will deal with people directly and they in turn advise each society and venue in the area of the person’s details including the period they have agreed to stand down.
The venue operators also have the power to issue a Non-Voluntary Exclusion Order and/or evict undesirable patrons from their premises.
SELF EXCLUSION ORDERS
A voluntary Self Exclusion Order is basically a contract between the venue and the problem gambler which automatically precludes that person from entering a particular gaming machine facility while they undergo some form of treatment.
The current flaw in this process is that it is venue specific and so TTCF openly encourages anyone who thinks they may have a problem to make contact with a local service provider who has the ability to include all of the gaming machine venues in a particular region.
The other option is that the person can visit all of the venues in their area on an individual basis and sign an order with each of them.
It is also important to note that venue operators are not authorised to initiate a Self Exclusion Order on the say so of anyone but the individual concerned.
If you are someone that believes you may have a gambling problem then you should feel free to talk directly to venue staff about excluding yourself from that venue. You can be assured that this will all happen in private. The venue is obliged to issue you with a Self Exclusion Order and while it is up to the individual concerned we do encourage you to consider opting for the maximum 2 year exclusion period as this gives ample time for treatment to be effective.
Invariably venues have numerous staff working many different shifts and logistically it is difficult for them all to be able to identify any one individual without some sort of facial recognition. While it is not currently a statutory obligation, it will greatly assist a venue if you are able to provide them with a recent photograph which can be attached to the exclusion order.
Rather than waiting for a person to make the initial contact, venue staff also have the option of suggesting to a person that may be displaying concerning tendencies or behaviours to consider completing a Self Exclusion Order. If you feel the need to assess yourself or someone close to you against the known traits of a problem gambler then we implore you to refer to our comprehensive checklist. READ MORE »
It is important to note the following:
- Once the Self Exclusion Order is signed by both parties the term of up to 2 years cannot be altered
- Should an excluded person breach this signed agreement they are liable for a fine of up to $500
- Should a venue operator refuse to issue a Self Exclusion Order they are liable for a fine of up to $10,000
- Should a venue operator knowingly allow an excluded person to enter the gaming machine area* they are liable for a fine of up to $10,000
Upon completion, a copy of the order and all associated documentation is handed to the excluded person. A copy is kept at the venue and another copy is retained by TTCF’s Christchurch Office.
VENUE INITIATED EXCLUSION ORDERS
The venue operator does have the option of imposing an exclusion order on any patron at any time. Usually they will consider this necessary if the gambler is displaying some concerning tendencies or behaviours but refuses to participate in the Self Exclusion Order process.
The venue operator will always attempt to provide the affected party with a copy of the exclusion order and it is important to note that even if the person refuses to cooperate the exact same conditions and penalties apply as for a Self Exclusion Order.
EVICTION FROM GAMING MACHINE VENUES
Should neither exclusion process be appropriate under the circumstances e.g. a group of punters are found to be threatening and/or soliciting other patrons, partaking in syndicated play or other undesirable behaviours; then the venue operator is empowered to have the offenders removed from the premises with no questions asked.
If you think you have a gambling problem we genuinely encourage you to seek professional help.
There are a number of problem gambling agencies that provide free assistance to those in need and most of these organisations offer a 24 hour free phone number for anyone who wants to discuss their particular issue.
There is a link to the Gambling Helpline (0800 654 655) on this website See Related Links.
A copy of TTCF’s current harm minimisation policies and associated documentation are available for viewing at any of our gaming machine facilities at any time.
Should you wish to view these online Click Here ».
* If the area in which the gaming machines are located is not specifically designated on the venue licence issued by the Department of Internal Affairs then the exclusion order will be applied to the entire premises not just the gaming machine facility.