There is a direct link between addiction to pokies and sick kids - Dr. Lance O'Sullivan

Dr. Lance O’Sullivan is set to present a keynote speech at the International Gambling Conference this week outlining the relationship between gambling and the daily workflow of a GP who works in a community that is affected by poverty.

"There is a direct link between addiction to pokies and sick kids. It's bad enough that we have diseases of poverty in a first world country like New Zealand, but to see them exacerbated by pokies is extremely frustrating. This is the definition of a preventable epidemic," says Dr. O’Sullivan.

He works closely with Māori Public Health organisation Hāpai Te Hauora who are experts in gambling harm prevention. He says, “Pokies make my job harder.”

Community Engagement Advisor for Hāpai Te Hauora, Kera Sherwood O'Regan, who is also set to present at the conference says, “Pokies and gambling have a massively negative effect on our whānau at all levels, and we know that has to change.”

She also says, “What is needed is to equip communities with accessible tools that whakamana and enable them to advocate for themselves, and we are excited to see how social and digital technologies can play a role in that."