New Zealand Saw a Surge in Gambling Spending

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New Zealand reported an overall drop in gambling spending in 2020, but Q4 numbers show that Kiwis have spent $252 million on pokie machines, the most ever spent. Pokie machine spending has been steadily increasing, and Q3, 2020 reached a 116% increase in profit.

Kiwis Spending on Pokie Machines Has Increased Tremendously

The New Zealand Department of Internal Affairs has been keeping records on how much money Kiwis are spending on gambling and, in the final quarter of last year, the department reported record-high spending on pokie machines. The report says that Kiwis spent approximately $252 million in October-November 2020.

Overall spending decreased in 2020 because of the mandatory lockdown. Spending on pokies decreased by 18%, casinos by 22%, and TAB was down by 10%. The lottery saw a 13% increase in revenue.

On the other hand, Q3 and Q4 saw bigger revenue generated through pokie machines. Pokies reported a 116% profit in Q3 alone since the government removed some of the restrictions. Gaming Machines Proceeds (GMP) saw an increase of 6.4%. In the period of October-November, 2020, pokies reported a tremendous turnover of $252 million profit for Q4.

These numbers have some problem gambling advocates worried. Problem Gambling Foundation marketing director Andree Froude expressed her concern on the matter, asking, “We would like to know where the money has come from.”

Vulnerable Communities Are Biggest Spenders

Froude stated that more than half of pokie machines are set in poorer communities, and given the fact that 2020 was a very difficult year, people shouldn’t spend money that they can’t afford to lose. Chair of the pokie industry body, the Gaming Machine Association, Peter Dengate Thrush, on the other hand, argued that because of the lack of tourists and the recent Auckland lockdown, Q4 gains would melt.  

Thrush said that the results would bring back the argument that gaming machines should decrease but emphasized the decreasing the number of machines does not affect the number of problem gamblers. His argument is that because of the mandatory 42% of pokie profits that are given back to the government, and these high profits will result in a boost for NZ communities by providing an increase in funding for health, education, environment, and sports all over the country.  

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