New data released by the Department of Internal Affairs shows that Kiwis spent $2.625 billion on the four main types of gambling in the 2020/21 financial year.
Spending on all forms of gambling increased over the previous financial year by 17%, with spending on pokies (outside casinos) increasing by 23% to $987 million.
Andree Froude, spokesperson for the Problem Gambling Foundation, says the data shows that despite the decrease in spend in the 2019/20 financial year due to the impact of COVID-19 lockdowns, the overall spend is the highest it has been in five years.
“It certainly shows that Kiwis returned to gambling after the lockdown restrictions ended, spending the equivalent of $730 for every adult in the country,” she says.
The spend on Class 4 gambling (pokies in pubs, clubs and TABs) is the highest it has been in five years at $987 million and the Problem Gambling Foundation says the government’s review into pokies announced yesterday is welcomed.
“The spend on pokies in Aotearoa is fast approaching $1 billion and that is money coming out of some of our poorest communities,” Andree Froude says.
“Over 60% of pokie venues are situated in medium high to very high deprivation areas so the money being lost is coming from people who can least afford to lose it.”
Internal Affairs Minister Jan Tinetti announced yesterday the review, which is now underway, aims to target and reduce harm experienced by some people who use pokies and people close to them.
Andree Froude says the review provides an opportunity for people to have their say on pokies in Aotearoa.
“We encourage people to speak out about pokies in their communities and the funding system that relies on people in our poorest communities putting money into pokies,” she says.
“Gambling harm is a serious social issue in this country, disproportinately impacting Māori, Pasifika and Asian communites. Class 4 pokies are the most harmful form of gambling with nearly 50% of people seeking help for gambling citing pokies in pubs, clubs and TABs as their main form of gambling.”
Harmful gambling can lead to broken relationships, loss of employment, poor mental health, fraud, poverty, family violence and child neglect.
Results from the 2018 Health and Lifestyles Survey for past year pokie gamblers in pubs and clubs indicate that pokie players were more than twice as likely to be at-risk of some level of gambling related harm compared to other gamblers.
Public consultation on reducing the harm from pokies began on 17 March 2022 and will run for six weeks. The public discussion document is available here including quick-reads in a number of languages.
For interview requests please contact:
Director Marketing and Communications
Problem Gambling Foundation
027 489 4801