Aims: To investigate the extent of current problem gambling in New Zealand, and the risk factors, addictive behaviours, and self-rated health status associated with problem gambling.
Methods: Analysis of the gambling questions from the 2002/03 New Zealand Health Survey, which interviewed 12,529 people aged 15 years and over, and included increased sampling of Maori, Pacific, and Asian people.
Results: Approximately 1.2% (95% confidence interval: 1.0-1.5) of the New Zealand adult population were found to be current problem gamblers, representing an estimated 32,800 (26,200-39,400) people. Risk factors for problem gambling included being of Maori or Pacific ethnicity, being aged 25-34 years, living alone, being employed, and being less qualified. Problem gambling was significantly associated with potentially hazardous drinking behaviour, daily cigarette smoking, and worse self-rated health, as measured on several SF-36 health domains.
Conclusions: Maori and Pacific peoples were at significantly greater risk of being problem gamblers than other people, particularly among those people who gambled. Associations between gambling problems and health problems and/or risk behaviours suggest compounded problems from comorbidity. This evidence may be useful in informing policy and public health programmes to reduce the harmful impact of problem gambling on individuals and communities, and in addressing the inequalities evident in gambling-related harm.