New Zealand has an appreciated and thriving gambling industry. It is one of the country’s greatest attractions and forms of entertainment. Reports estimate that 80% of New Zealanders gamble in some way.
The Department of Internal Affairs primarily regulates gambling in New Zealand. Their involvement is crucial since the country’s gambling industry has increased in number of users, expenditure, and revenue.
This ongoing spike can help generate more money for New Zealand’s economy. See the facts and statistics about them through this read.
- The overall gambling expenditure in New Zealand was $2.4 billion in 2018.
- Of 17,799 poker machines in New Zealand, 82% are in pubs and clubs, while 18% are in casinos.
- Most of New Zealand’s online gambling activities are unregulated, leading to a yearly loss of $140 million.
- Around 76,000 New Zealand citizens aged 15 and up were at moderate to high risk of harm from gambling in 2018.
- Over 50% of pokie machines are found across New Zealand’s lowest socio-economic communities.
- Relapsing into problematic gambling behaviors is prevalent in New Zealand, seeing 60% of problem gamblers returning to their habits yearly.
- New Zealand’s online gambling market is projected to hit $600 million in 2027.
- 10% of New Zealanders bet on sports or racing events.
How Much Do Kiwis Lose in Gambling?
In 2016, Kiwis lost more than $843 million in poker machines, which are electronic gaming machines known as pokies. Fast forward to 2020, Kiwis blew around $1 billion on pokies.
The Department of Internal Affairs (DIA) showed that Kiwis continue betting more and more. In 2021, New Zealanders spent $2.625 billion on the 4 main types of gambling. These are:
- Instant games
- Games of chance
- Prize competitions
More data about the gambling habits of Kiwis that led to such losses and expenditures are below.
Statistics on New Zealand’s Gambling Industry
The pandemic strained New Zealand’s gambling industry. Pubs, clubs, and casinos were temporarily closed. That made the annual gambling profits from poker machines, the country’s most popular form of gambling, drops to only $128 million.
New Zealand’s gambling industry was resilient, though. It still sees a growing number of bettors and revenues. Refer to the numbers below and learn more:
1. New Zealand’s overall gambling expenditure in 2018 was $2.4 billion.
Gambling expenditure has been steadily increasing in New Zealand since 2011. Kiwis spent the most on gaming machines outside casinos in all those years. Most of them are poker machines found across the country.
2. There are 17,799 poker machines throughout New Zealand.
(Problem Gambling Foundation of New Zealand)
Poker machines, a.k.a. pokies, are embedded into New Zealand’s gambling culture. Eight years after the country legalized gambling, pokies became legal and popular.
82% of pokies are in pubs and clubs, while the remaining 18% are in casinos.
3. In 2022, Kiwis spent a net amount of $528 million on gaming machines.
Pokies keep Kiwis spending. These gambling machines are addictive because they create false and near wins. Occasionally, some pokies also give out “free spins” that make a gambler feel lucky.
Any winnings will make a player want to put in more money. That is why pokies are seen as the crack cocaine of gambling in New Zealand.
4. According to NZ’s Department of Internal Affairs, Kiwis spend an average of $572 on several forms of gambling.
(Radio New Zealand)
Pokies are extremely popular in New Zealand, but other forms of gambling also thrive in the country. Those are:
- Race betting
- Scratch cards
- Sports betting
- Casino games
Here is the breakdown of that $572 gambling expenditure per New Zealander:
|Form of gambling||Expenditure|
|TAB (for racing and sports betting)||$80|
5. 49% of those who gamble on pokie machines may experience harm due to gambling.
(Health Navigator New Zealand)
26% of those who wager on racing or sports events may also experience harm from gambling. But all forms of gambling can cause concerns.
Talking about harm from gambling is not just about losing money. Many negative consequences come from gambling, such as:
- Reduced self-esteem
- Increased alcohol consumption
- Feelings of shame and hopelessness
- Affecting relationships with friends and family
6. Digital casinos are hugely popular, with 80% of New Zealand gamblers participating.
(In Plain English)
Online gaming has been setting the scene for digital casinos in New Zealand for over a decade. Today, 4 out of 5 Kiwis have played online casinos.
Interestingly, domestic online gambling is illegal in New Zealand. The only authorized providers in New Zealand are Lotto NZ and the TAB.
But Kiwis can still place their bets online through offshore websites. That means NZ’s Department of Internal Affairs cannot monitor and regulate most of the online gambling happening in the country.
7. New Zealand’s online gambling market will reach $1.1 billion in revenue at the end of 2023.
The country’s online gambling market is set to grow continuously, even though Kiwis can only gamble through offshore websites. More websites can emerge in the future, increasing users and revenue.
From 2023 to 2027, the market’s annual growth rate will be 7.88%, reaching $1.51 billion in 2027.
8. The country loses $140 million per year due to the unregulated nature of online gambling.
Since most online gambling activities happen on offshore websites, online gambling is not part of the local economy. With that, New Zealand loses millions of potential revenue from the industry.
This is also a disadvantage to the citizens. Regulating and legalizing online gambling in the country can mean more jobs for citizens and prospects for business owners.
9. Casino gambling expenditure in New Zealand was $578 million in 2018.
There are only 6 commercial casinos across New Zealand. Despite that, the industry makes a staggering revenue, increasing for over a decade.
Poker machines see the most action in these casinos. But gamblers also go to a casino to participate in the following activities:
- Card games
- Sports and race betting
10. A 2020 survey showed that 65% of respondents gambled online through MyLotto.
MyLotto online is New Zealand’s official lotto site. The site provides a legal way to gamble online in New Zealand.
Its users have been increasing since the initial lockdown. In a post-lockdown world, MyLotto still sees thousands of users. Playing the lotto on the website is easy, so playing it online is highly convenient.
New Zealand Gamblers Demographic
4 out of 5 New Zealanders are involved in gambling. They like poker machines the most. When it comes to betting, sports events have more bettors than racing events.
Gambling participation in New Zealand has different ranges. Some do it occasionally for recreation and entertainment. Others depend on the activities and are considered at risk for problematic gambling.
11. 76,000 people over 15 in 2018 were at risk of harm from gambling at moderate to high-risk levels in New Zealand.
(Health Navigator New Zealand, AUT)
Gambling is harmless – when it doesn’t cause problematic behaviors or negative consequences.
A person is at moderate-to-high risk of harm from gambling when they experience moderate consequences and problems. That means they often encounter gambling problems, but they do not affect their daily lives.
Numerous factors can increase the chances of becoming a problematic gambler. Some examples are:
- Male gender
- Younger age
- Larger household size
- Low socioeconomic status
Major life events are also catalysts for developing gambling dependence. These are important to know to recognize the patterns of problem gambling and stop it from its roots.
12. In New Zealand, 142,000 people were at low risk of harm from gambling.
(Health Navigator New Zealand, Gambling Guidelines)
When people are at low risk of harm from gambling, they sometimes experience adverse consequences and problems. However, they have their gambling down a notch and follow the criteria:
- Only gambling for 4 days per month
- Not gambling on more than 2 types of games
- Not spending more than 1% of monthly income
That does not make it a better situation since low-risk gamblers are still at risk of further gambling problems in the future.
13. More than 13% of adults in New Zealand participated in online gambling in 2018.
(Health Navigator New Zealand)
Online gambling is not locally available in New Zealand. Despite that, Kiwis still participate in the industry through offshore websites. This puts New Zealand on the map in the world of online gambling.
14. A June 2020 survey showed that 14% of New Zealanders aged 18 to 24 were worried about their gambling habits.
That data was collected after the New Zealand lockdown was downgraded to level 1. This showed decreased concern among New Zealanders since, during the lockdown, over 25% were worried about their gambling habits.
During the lockdown, most establishments were closed, not just gambling venues. To alleviate boredom and isolation, people turned to several modes of entertainment. One of those is gambling.
15. More than 50% of pokie machines are in New Zealand’s lowest socio-economic areas.
Disadvantaged areas are hotspots for pokies. These machines have a “get rich quick” promise to their users, making them attractive to low-income gamblers.
Unfortunately, this puts further financial strains on impoverished communities.
16. People from disadvantaged communities spend 3 times more gambling than those from well-off areas.
Pokies are seen as ways to win money easily. They are addicting, especially for people from impoverished communities, because it gives them a quick chance to earn.
But all the money gamblers wager bounces back to those who run the industry, all of which are from affluent lifestyles.
17. More than 60% of New Zealanders who became problem gamblers within a year are from relapse cases.
In New Zealand, more than half of “new” problem gamblers were considered one before.
There is a phenomenon called “The Merry-Go-Round of Habitual Response,” where a situation catalyzes back old and bad habits.
Problem gamblers have the urge to relapse when they experience the following triggers:
- Spike of confidence
- Suddenly receiving a huge amount of money
- Long-term history of mental health disorder(s)
That is why problem gambling is a tricky situation to escape for most gamblers.
18. 30% of gambling losses in New Zealand are from problem gamblers.
Problem gamblers put out the most money in the industry, and they contribute the most to its revenue. Consequently, they tend to lose the most money.
19. At least 183,000 adults in New Zealand experienced second-hand gambling harm.
Problem gambling does not just affect the gambler. The gambler’s friends and families also feel the negative consequences of gambling. When they do, it is called “second-hand gambling harm.”
Gambling expenses are the most argued topic between gamblers and non-gamblers. This can result in emotional and physical health problems for everyone affected.
New Zealand Gambling Trends Statistics
Gambling is a growing trend in New Zealand. When the country’s lockdown was at level 4, 39% of the respondents gambled online. Then, when the lockdown status went down to level 1, the industry saw a 5% decrease in participants.
Below are more New Zealand gambling scene trends you should know.
20. Gamblers spent $332.6 million in online gambling in 2022, compared to 2014’s expenditure of only $139.3 million.
Local online gambling is still prohibited in New Zealand. That is why offshore providers aggressively target New Zealand’s online gamblers.
This strategy has been working so far. New Zealanders spend a significant amount of money on unregulated online gambling.
By 2027, New Zealand’s online gambling market will hit $600 million.
Some representatives are urging NZ’s Department of Internal Affairs to start regulating a broader online gambling market. Otherwise, the government would not have any control over the industry.
21. Casino games are gaining popularity, reaching 3.82 million downloads in 2022.
These games are played with virtual currency. Some apps involve real money to buy virtual currency used in the app. Casino games are popular applications because they simulate physical casinos. They give a similar experience but most twists and bonuses that users enjoy more.
22. Total revenue from casino games is projected to have a growth rate of 6.67%.
Since casino games are gaining popularity in New Zealand, it is expected to have a revenue of $52.54 million by 2027.
There are various casino games available, but the most popular ones are:
- Card game apps
- Slot machine games
These will contribute the most to the industry’s revenue and user growth.
23. By 2027, New Zealand’s online gambling market is set to have 571,700 users.
The user penetration of New Zealand’s online gambling market is 9.2%. By 2027, that is expected to increase to 11.3%.
Moreover, the current average revenue per user (ARPU) in New Zealand’s online gambling market is $2,450.
This means more New Zealanders are getting into online gambling. The market is also getting competitive, which can mean more bets. All in all, the market’s ARPU will also increase.
24. In 2021, 1 in 10 New Zealanders bet on racing or sports.
(New Zealand Gambling Law Guide)
Kiwi bettors place their wagers on TAB NZ, the country’s only regulated racing and sports betting site.
Since this data is from the only regulated operator in New Zealand, there can be more NZs betting on racing and sports. But they go unrecorded since they might bet offshore or through unofficial bookies.
The numbers show New Zealand’s gambling industry has a bright future. It is expected to see more users, expenditures, and revenues.
The online gambling industry is projected to gain the most numbers. People enjoy the convenience of gambling using their gadgets. More apps and sites are also available to Kiwis. The only thing missing is the government’s further regulation of these operators.
Citizens also suggest New Zealand’s Department of Internal Affairs review slot machines. They urged the DIA to review gambling and its harmful effects on the citizens.
Frequently Asked Questions
Does New Zealand allow gambling?
It is legal to gamble in New Zealand under the operators NZ Lotteries and New Zealand Racing Board (TAB).
Is gambling a problem in New Zealand?
NZ has one of the world’s lowest rates of problem gambling.
Who regulates gambling in New Zealand?
The Department of Internal Affairs governs gambling in New Zealand as mandated by the Gambling Act 2003.
List of sources
Problem Gambling Foundation of New Zealand