According to fresh data given by the country’s Department of the Internal Affairs, New Zealanders spent NZ$2.63 billion ($1.81 billion) on four primary categories of gaming in financial year 2020/21.
Spending on all forms of gambling surged by 17% over the previous fiscal year, while slot spending (outside casinos) increased by 23% to NZ$987 million.
Home Affairs Minister Ian Tinetti revealed that the government is conducting an assessment to determine and mitigate the harm to slot players.
Andree Froud, a spokesman for the Problem Gambling Foundation, welcomed the assessment but voiced concern about the escalating expenses of gambling.
“It certainly demonstrates that New Zealanders have gone back to gambling since the blocking restrictions were lifted, with each adult spending the equivalent of $730 New Zealand dollars,” Frade said. “In Aotearoa, spending on slot machines has surpassed NZ$1 billion, and that money is leaving some of our poorest areas.”
“More than 60% of gaming facilities are located in regions of medium to high deprivation, thus the money that is lost comes from people who in no way can afford to lose it.”
Frade continued, “Gambling harm is a severe societal problem in our country, affecting Maori, Pacifica, and Asian populations disproportionately. Over 50% of gamers seeking help cite slots at pubs and clubs as the most destructive type of gambling.”
Impact of the Pandemic on Online Gambling
Online gambling for Lotto in New Zealand has increased because of the lockdowns. Case in point: in 2020, New Zealanders spent $631 million on Lotto tickets, up 13% from the previous year.
The rise in Lotto was part of a larger trend of internet gambling, which is considerably more harmful to communities. Many activities, including gambling, migrate to the internet, and regrettably, much of it is offshore and uncontrolled. It can’t be taxed because it doesn’t generate any profits for the community. As a result, the industry is experiencing an extremely disruptive and damaging trend.
More trends occurring in the pandemic:
- Slots are classified as level 4 by the Problem Gambling Foundation because of their significant risk of addiction and damage
- People who lose money are poor people in impoverished communities
- Surprisingly, the economy as a whole hasn’t fared as terribly as one could have expected in the event of a pandemic.