Why is Pokies Usage Decreasing in New Zealand?

gambling pokies
Gambling up Pokies down

It has been reported that we Kiwis have a problem with Gambling 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 is lost through betting on the year on year, but what would happen if we were to decide pokies are not for us?

Pokies, also known as slot machines, are a popular form of gambling that has been around for over a century. These gambling pokies machines typically consist of a screen displaying a set of reels with various symbols, which spin when a button is pressed or a lever is pulled. Players then hope to match up the symbols in a winning combination, which can result in a payout.

Pokies were first introduced to New Zealand in the 1980s and quickly gained popularity. By the 2000s, there were tens of thousands of pokies machines scattered throughout the country, making them a ubiquitous part of the New Zealand gambling landscape. However, in recent years, the use of pokies has been on the decline.

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 gambling pokies usage dropping?

So why is our pokie usage dropping?
So why is our gambling pokies usage dropping?

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 the number 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, which sounds like a lot, but it is twenty-seven million dollars less than in 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 though spending on the pokies went down. It seems we changed gambling mediums because pokies were lost to us.

Recent stats show more loss in Gambling pokies

Gambling in NZ
Gambling Pokies in NZ

Kiwis spent the equivalent of $648 each on gambling last year, with the biggest share going to pokies. That was $49m higher than the last year 2018. But once inflation and population growth was taken into account; it was a slight decrease in 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 most closely linked with gambling harm and officials focus most of their harm reduction efforts on 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.

What changes occur in gambling regulations in New Zealand?

New Zealand is very much concerned with the safety and security of Kiwis while playing online gambling pokies games for which they are limiting the pokies usage. Some of the recent regulations which are aimed to decrease pokies usage are listed below:

  1. Limits on the number of pokies that can be operated in a particular area.
  2. Limits on the hours during which pokies can be played.
  3. Increased taxes on pokies operators, making it more expensive to run these machines.
  4. The introduction of a self-exclusion program, allows individuals to voluntarily exclude themselves from gambling venues and online sites.
  5. The establishment of the Problem Gambling Foundation provides support and resources for people who may be struggling with gambling addiction.
  6. The development of harm minimization strategies, such as warning labels on gambling products and mandatory training for gambling venue staff.

The government’s efforts to lessen the harm caused by gaming and promote responsible gambling in New Zealand are reflected in these changes.

Socio-Economic Factor in Reduction of Gambling Pokies

Several socioeconomic factors have contributed to the reduction in pokies gambling in New Zealand. Let’s together learn about them in detail.

Many people’s disposable income has decreased as a result of the recession, making it less likely that they will spend money on gambling activities like pokies. Many people have had to set spending priorities, and gambling is frequently viewed as a frivolous activity.

An increasing number of people are becoming aware of the harm that gambling can do to both individuals and society as a whole. This has caused a greater emphasis to be placed on offering assistance and options to those who may be dealing with gambling addiction. Because of this, many people are choosing not to gamble and are becoming more aware of the dangers of pokies.

The decline in the popularity of pokies has been attributed to cultural attitudes towards gambling pokies changing. The perception of gambling has changed throughout the years from being viewed as a socially acceptable activity to one that is more critical. There has been a decline in the social acceptability of pokies as a result of increased public awareness of the potential negative effects of gambling. The number of people who are willing to use pokies as a source of amusement has declined as a result of this shift in attitudes.

Technological Advances

Technological advances have also provided alternatives to gambling pokies. The rise of online gambling and mobile gaming has made it more convenient for individuals to play a wide range of casino games from the comfort of their own homes or on their mobile devices. Increased competition from other forms of entertainment has also made it more difficult for traditional pokies venues to attract customers.

The introduction of mobile gaming has also played a role in the decline of pokies usage. Mobile gaming allows individuals to play a variety of games on their smartphones or tablets, offering a convenient and accessible form of entertainment. The rise of mobile gaming has made it more difficult for traditional pokies venues to attract customers, as they may prefer the convenience and accessibility of mobile gaming.

Many Problem Gamblers relapsed

Many Problem Gamblers relapsed
Many Problem Gamblers relapsed

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. These are those who had not been exposed to gambling in the past and were more vulnerable to addiction.

Many say pokies are bad. The fact is, this shows that if pokies are not around people will still find alternative means to have a flutter; whether it’s at the casino or putting on a sports bet.

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

See also Gambling Demographics in New Zealand: Maori People Gamble More and Key Points About Gambling Problems


while pokies have been a popular form of gambling pokies in New Zealand for many years, the negative impacts of problem gambling have led to increased awareness and action from the government, the public and the industry. The implementation of harm reduction measures, such as restrictions on the number and location of pokies machines, and increased funding for problem gambling support services, has played a role in the decline of gambling pokies usage. Additionally, societal attitudes towards gambling have changed, with increased awareness of the harm caused by gambling addiction.

Finally, technological advances have provided alternatives to traditional pokies gambling, such as online gambling pokies and mobile gaming. While the decline of pokies usage may present challenges for the industry, it also presents an opportunity to develop new and innovative ways to engage with customers and promote responsible gambling practices. Ultimately, the goal should be to provide a safe and enjoyable gambling experience for all New Zealanders.

Bhumika Mishra

Bhumika is a vivacious young writer from Auckland, with a fresh perspective on today's digital landscape. Combining her passion for storytelling with her love for cutting-edge technology, she delivers compelling content that captivates and informs readers.