NZ gamblers spent $2.6 billion last year

Department of Internal Affairs’ new data released shows that New Zealanders spent 2.625 billion NZ dollars on gambling in 2020/21.

This data includes results for the four main types of gambling in NZ: lotteries, prize competitions, gaming machines outside casinos, games of chance, and instant games.

Spending on all four main types of gambling increased over the previous year by 17%. Spending on gaming machines outside casinos (pokies) increased by 23% or 987 million NZ dollars.

Gambling infographic for New Zealand 2022
On average, each
Kiwi over 18
spent a total of NZ$ 662 on gambling.

Annual figures on all NZ gambling activities

Here we have a cumulative annual recap of the amount lost on gambling in NZ by Kiwis.

This summary is official data issued by the Department of Internal Affairs for the last 4 years where we can see a drastic difference and an increase of 17%.

Gambling in NZ for 2018/19

  • TAB NZ Racing Board: NZ$332m
  • NZ lotteries: NZ$531m
  • Pokies: NZ$895m
  • Land based casinos: $578m
  • Total spend: NZ$2.4 billion

Gambling in NZ for 2020/21

  • TAB NZ Racing Board: NZ$385m
  • NZ lotteries: NZ$694m
  • Pokies: NZ$987m
  • Land-based casinos: NZ$559m
  • Total spend: NZ$2.6 billion

Problem Gaming Foundation statement

The spokesperson of the Problem Gaming Foundation in New Zealand, Andree Froude, said that despite the decrease in spending for 2019/20 due to Covid-19 lockdowns, data shows overall expenditure at the highest level in the past five years.

She also said that after the lockdown restrictions ended, Kiwis returned to gambling and spent 730 NZ dollars for every adult person in New Zealand.

The spend on Gambling Class 4, including gambling on pokies in clubs, pubs, and TABs, is 987 million NZ$, the highest level in the last five years. Problem Gambling Foundation NZ confirmed that the NZ government’s review into Class 4 gambling is welcomed. This review applies to pokies.

Andree added that spending on pokies in New Zealand is approaching 1 million NZ dollars, and the saddest thing is that all that money is coming out from the poorest communities.

Andree Froude, spokesperson of the Problem Gaming Foundation

60% of pokie venues are located in medium to very high-poverty areas, so the funds being lost on gambling come from people who can not afford it.

This situation is not just the case in New Zealand. Globally, gambling is most popular in the poorest areas of countries. Take, for example, Eastern Europe. The towns are filled with sportsbooks and gambling venues where the most people who lose money are the poor ones.

Pokies rules review

Jan Tinetti, the Internal Affairs Minister, announced that the review would aim to target and reduce the harm encountered by people who gamble on pokies and people close to them.

Andree added that the study would allow Kiwis to express their opinion about pokies in NZ. Her main objective is to motivate Kiwis to talk about pokies in their neighbourhoods and the budget system that depends on the poorest people from impoverished communities spending money on pokies.

Gambling damage to the country is a severe social issue in NZ society, impacting Asians, Pasifika and Māori communities.

The most harmful type of gambling is the Class 4 pokies. Accordingly, 50% of Kiwis who contacted gambling help reported pokies in TAbs, clubs and pubs as their primary type of gambling.

In our responsible gambling guide, we have mentioned that harmful gambling leads to child neglect, family violence, poverty, poor mental health, fraud, broken relationships, loss of employment and even criminal activities.

The 2018 Health and Lifestyle Survey for pokie gamblers in clubs and pubs showed that pokie players are more than twice as at risk of gambling problems as other gamblers.

Public discussion on reducing the harm of pokies started on 17 March 2022 and expired on 28 April 2022. See more info here.