Is there an Alarming Increase in Pokies Spend in New Zealand?

Is there an Alarming Increase in Pokies Spend in New Zealand
Is there an Alarming Increase in Pokies Spending in New Zealand

The Kiwis seem to be indulging in online pokies nowadays

It’s a well-known fact that pokies are trendy in New Zealand. According to a report from Gisborne’s Department of Internal Affairs, it rivals Australia regarding pokies spending.

The only difference would be Aussies frequently play land-based pokies while Kiwis are now big fans of mobile pokie games. Here are some facts about pokies spent in New Zealand.

New Zealanders have an increasing penchant for online poker. The Department of Internal Affairs (DIA) has found out the Gisborne residents have been drained of $100 million.

The residents have wagered $2.4 million on pokies in the last three months. This has resulted in a $7.4 annual loss in Q3.

The DIA estimates that pokie-related losses will reach around $10 million this year. This is a rough estimate, but it could represent a $700,000 increase compared to last year.

It’s not an alarming rate just yet, but what seems to be the factor that increases the pokies’ spending?

Online Pokies Contributes to Pokies Spend in New Zealand

mobile pokies new zealand
Online Pokies Contributes to Pokies Spend

Pokies’ gaming spending has increased at the national level. New Zealanders have wagered around $218.9 million on digital pokie games compared to its previous $213.5 million in the same period last year.

The astounding figures would be that it is now $848.9 million, or 3% more than the $823.8 million in the previous year. Industry analysts say that New Zealanders have found another venue to play pokies, which is in the form of mobile pokie games.

The Department of Internal Affairs (DIA) recently released new data showing that there has been another increase in pokies spending in New Zealand for the last quarter, and questions have been raised about why this is happening despite a decrease in pokie machine numbers.

Pokies and the Gambling Act

Pokie expenditure in New Zealand saw a sharp rise in the late 90s and early 2000s, side-by-side with the expansion of machines around the nation.

Expenditure peaked in 2004 and 2005 when over a billion dollars each year was lost to machines in exchange for nothing more than lights and sounds.

After 2004, when the Gambling Act was in full effect, the amount of money on pokies spent in New Zealand started to decline and has been trending downward ever since.

Every quarter, the DIA releases updated data that shows that quarter’s expenditure and the current number of venues and pokie machines.

Usually, they will report how the expenditure has changed compared to the same quarter of the previous year.

Sometimes, this shows an increase in pokies spending in New Zealand. However, a short-term increase is very different from a long-term decreasing trend.

Pokies spending in NZ
Increase in pokies spending in New Zealand

Looking at pokie trends 

Looking at changes from quarter to quarter is often not very helpful. In the DIA report, the quarterly national expenditure looks like a mountain range trending up and down.

The changes tend to be seasonal – during the summer, the expenditure falls, then steadily rises again through the cooler months.

Looking at reports from year to year gives you a better picture of the rise and fall of annual pokies spending in New Zealand. It has risen for the past two years – 2015 was higher than 2014, and 2016 was still higher. However, those are only two data points in a general downward trend.

The machine numbers in New Zealand have seen a steady decrease in pokies spent in New Zealand since the introduction of the Gambling Act. There are almost 4,000 fewer pokies in operation now than in 2007.

The numbers of machines and the pokies spent in New Zealand are following the same downward trend, and that’s not likely to be a coincidence.

But the machine numbers don’t always follow the same short-term rise and fall as the expenditure in pokies in New Zealand because not all machines are used equally.

People with gambling problems generate a disproportionate amount of pokie expenditure – Australian research estimates it could be as much as 60%. The recent National Gambling Study found that people who use pokies more often have longer play sessions.

The more often you play, and the longer you play, the more money you will lose to the machines and the more likely you are to have or develop a gambling problem.

So if a small number of people are playing a small number of machines but are generating a more significant portion of expenditure in pokies spent in New Zealand, you can’t guarantee the numbers of pokie machines and the expenditure spent on pokie machines will change at the same rate.

That isn’t to say that reducing the machine numbers doesn’t help. Research shows that having easy access to pokies is a critical factor in developing and maintaining a problem with pokie gambling. 

This is why the Problem Gambling Foundation supports a “sinking lid” gambling policy in approximately 17 districts across New Zealand.

A ‘sinking lid’ policy means no new licenses for pokie machines can be issued, and pokie machines cannot be transferred to a new pub or owner if the venue closes. Reducing availability is also one way that can help reduce gambling harm.

Will New Zealand Turn into Australia?

Will New Zealand Turn into Australia
Will New Zealand Turn into Australia

The Australian gambling industry has recently been tumultuous. Anti-gambling lobbyists and gambling operators are initiating discussions—the increasing concerns of problem gambling cause these.

One prime example is the recent Pokie-Leaks campaign headed by a senators’ team. The campaign advocates a more rigid and moderated gambling industry.

It’s been proposed that a $1 betting limit be imposed across pokie machines in Australia. The legislation is only a proposal for now. It can all change as Australian elections are underway in 2018.

A significant revelation of the socio-political issue of gambling could happen before amendments are implemented.

The question would be – will the New Zealand government impose right yet appropriate online gambling regulations before it becomes a clone of Australia’s gambling industry?

About the author

Michaela Scott

Michaela Scott

Michaela Scott stands as one of the leading voices in New Zealand's online gaming scene.

With a tenure spanning nearly a decade at PokiesMobile NZ, Michaela's contributions range from meticulously crafted game reviews to in-depth industry analysis.

Hailing from Christchurch, she brings a mix of local insights and global perspectives to her writings.

Her dedication to staying ahead of industry trends and her unparalleled expertise make her pieces both educational and enjoyable.