Gambling up Pokies down

Pokies New Zealand

It has been reported that us Kiwis have a problem with pokies and because of this, the government has been hell bent on curbing our spending on the pokies. We have seen so many articles about how bad pokies are and how much are lost through betting on them year on year, but what would happen if we were to decide pokies are not for us?

Well whilst we are not making any move to reduce our love of pokies, spending on the pokies is actually down when you compare it with ten years back of years.

So why is our pokie usage dropping?

Pokies problem

The answer to this is the government, somehow it always ends up back with them right!

The number of licensed non-casino gaming machines peaked at just over 25,000 on 30 June 2003, the last full quarter before the Gambling Act 2003 became law. The number has been falling since. You can find the latest gaming machine statistics here. The main reason for the decline is related to the policies regarding numbers of venues and pokie machines adopted by Territorial Authorities. There has also been some amalgamation of societies that may have fed into the downward trend.

The amount spent in 2012 on the pokies was $839.7 million, it sounds a lot, but it is twenty seven million dollars less than 2011. Interestingly, with this downturn in pokie usage you will think that we have turned our back on gambling, but this is not the case.

Surprisingly, given the above, spending on gambling has actually gone up by over 3% in 2012. This is even thought spending on the pokies went down. It seems we changed gambling mediums because pokies were lost to us.

Recent stats show more loss in pokies

Gambling in NZ

Kiwis spent equivalent of $648 each on gambling last year, with the biggest share going to pokies. That was $49m higher than last year 2018, but once inflation and population growth was taken into account it was a slight decrease on the previous financial year.

It continues a trend of falling expenditure on gambling in this country, though problem gambling groups say the levels of harm related to gambling have remained the same for more than a decade.

The Department of Internal Affairs, releasing the figures said the largest share of spending went into non-casino gaming machines, also known as pokies. In total, $895m was spent on pokies. The machines are mostly closely linked with gambling harm and officials focus most of their harm reductions efforts of them.

Despite those efforts, the total spend on pokies was only slightly down in the last year – from about $242 per person to $238 per person.

Nearly $580m was spent in the country’s six casinos, four of which had record years.  Professor Max Abbott, director of AUT’s Gambling and Addictions Research Centre, said the amount of money being gambled by New Zealanders had fallen by about 20 per cent in 15 years. Yet over that time, the levels of gambling-related harm had remained steady.

This was because a large number of problem gamblers relapsed and half to two-thirds of current problem gamblers were people who had broken their habit before slipping back into it.

The stubborn rate of problem gambling was also partly driven by migrants from countries like China or the Pacific Islands who had not been exposed to gambling in the past and were more vulnerable to addiction.

Many say pokies are bad, but we feel this shows that if pokies are not around people will still find alternative means to have a flutter, whether its at the casino or putting on a sports bet.

2011 to 2012 was a record year for the amount we have spent on gambling, in total the people of New Zealand spent $2.1 billion across all gambling platforms.

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