Counselling services, gaming sector put pressure on Government to review Gambling Act

The Government has promised to get tough on venues with pokie machines, in an effort to combat problem gambling. 

Counselling services facing growing demand say the new rules are a start, but what's really needed is a full-scale review of the Gambling Act.

The sounds, the flashes, a jackpot and you're a winner - but behind the bright lights is a dark reality.

"We've seen crime, we've seen suicide, we've seen just complete devastation of families," Mapu Maia's national director Pesio Ah Honi told Newshub.

Ah Honi told Newshub about a Pacific family who tried to chase the "New Zealand dream" but instead they nearly lost it all.

"They were on the verge of losing their home, and when we went to visit them they had sold any furniture, there wasn't any food in the house, and their car was no longer there."

Maia Pacific used to have one councillor who saw 100 people per year. It now has six councillors, a public health team, and it runs over 3000 sessions a year for people battling addiction.

Internal Affairs Minister Jan Tinetti said she wants to stop the hurt by introducing mandatory training for venue staff, as well as sweeps of gambling areas that must be recorded.

There'll be instant $1000 fines for failing to check on gamblers and train staff.

"This package is only a small step to reduce gambling harm, and it is not going to fix everything," Minister Tinetti said.

There is also still no sign of a promised review of the Gambling Act.

"We haven't seen [a] change in a very long time, so it is good that this has happened, but so much more needs to be done," Problem Gambling Foundation's Andree Froude told Newshub.

Even the gaming sector says the Act is simply outdated, and all these changes do is stigmatise addicts.

"What we think about this announcement is the Minister hasn't gone far enough on a number of issues, we've been working with the department now on a number of things for over a year. This was an opportunity for her to take some of those and run with them, and she hasn't," Gaming Machine Association chair Peter Dengate-Thrush told Newshub.

The media asked the Minister when a review would commence.

"Yet to be determined but I do sense the pressure around it," Minister Tinetti said.

Meanwhile, those who can't quit continue to count the cost.