New Zealand's largest Māori public health organisation, Hāpai Te Hauora, has grave concerns for consumers of online gambling products recently launched by the Lotteries Commission. Hāpai work in problem gambling harm minimisation at a national and regional level, and they believe these products have immense potential for harm.

Hāpai's opposition to these products centres on the nature of the online interaction - the isolation experienced by someone who is gambling alone interferes with successful harm minimisation interventions. "Kanohi ki te kanohi (face to face) rapport building is an essential aspect of harm minimisation which is eliminated in an online environment," says Anthony Hawke General Manager Māori Public Health for Hāpai Te Hauora. "We appreciate that the app has some security measures in place but we feel they are insufficient to allow for appropriate harm minimisation interventions to take place."

Chief Executive of the Mental Health Foundation of New Zealand, Shaun Robinson also shares our concern stating "access to addictive gambling products such as pokie machines and on-line gambling are a significant public health hazard with major mental health implications. They make the stresses experienced by those in poor communities worse and compound mental health problems. There must be political, community and individual will to tackle these social issues and improve the mental well-being of Kiwi’s. We urge the Lotteries Commission to consider the social good and to make a decision not to proceed with these gambling products".

"You can't say we weren't warned," says Hawke "The Lotteries Commission have been pushing for online gambling for over ten years. Successive governments have looked at the case for it, been told that it's a big risk, but nobody put their foot down and said - this isn't going to happen here. It's a travesty."