According to data revealed by the Department of Internal Affairs, gamblers in New Zealand spent $2,334 million dollars on the four main forms of gambling in the 2016/17 financial year, $125 million (5.7 per cent) more than the previous year. Adjusting for the effects of both inflation and changes to New Zealand’s population (18 years and older), gambling expenditure increased by 1.1 per cent, from an average of $629 per person in 2016, to $635 per person in 2016/17.
Spending on lotteries increased the most, up 26.8 per cent, while non-casino gaming machine expenditure rose 3.1 per cent. Racing and sports betting, and casinos recorded small decreases of 1.3 per cent and 2.4 per cent respectively.
The take from TAB racing and sports betting decreased 1.3 per cent from $342 million in 2015/16 to $338 million in 2016/17. Betting turnover fell due to fewer VIP customers betting into Australian hosted pools and a lack of major international sporting events, apart from the Lions’ tour. After adjusting for both inflation and changes in the adult population, expenditure on TAB racing and sports betting decreased from an average of $97 per person in 2016 to $92 per person in 2016/17.
The take from NZ Lotteries’ product sales increased 26.8 per cent from $437 million in 2015/16 to $555 million in 2016/17 due to changes to Lotto games which delivered more winners and bigger Powerball prizes. After adjusting for both inflation and changes in the adult population, expenditure on NZ Lotteries’ products increased from an average of $124 per person in 2015/16 to $151 per person in 2016/17.
The take from non-casino gaming machines or "pokies” increased 3.1 per cent from $843 million in 2015/16 to $870 million in 2016/17. After adjusting for both inflation and changes in the adult population, however, expenditure on pokies decreased slightly from an average of $240 per person in 2016 to $237 per person in 2016/17. This coincides with declining numbers of venues and machines.
The take from the country’s six casinos decreased 2.4 per cent from $586 million in 2015/16 to $572 million in 2016/17 returning expenditure to pre-2015/16 trends. SkyCity, with four of New Zealand’s six casinos, said reduced international business turnover affected gambling revenue. After adjusting for both inflation and changes in the adult population, expenditure at casinos decreased from an average of $167 per person in 2015/16 to $156 per person in 2016/17.
Communities benefited from an estimated $722 million, equal to 30.9 per cent of gambling expenditure in 2016/17, for various purposes:
• The New Zealand Racing Board allocated $147 million, mostly to support racing club activities and infrastructure;
• The Lottery Grants Board approved $235 million in grants for community services and projects;
• Non-casino gaming machine trusts raised an estimated $291 million for authorised purposes;
• Non-casino gaming machine clubs raised an estimated $45 million for their own purposes; and,
• Casinos paid $4 million to their community trusts.
The most recent expenditure figures available for Class 4 gambling show pokie spending in pubs and clubs for the fourth quarter of 2017 was up $5.2 million or 2.3 per cent to $228.8 million compared with $223.6 million in December 2016. Spending in the 12 months ended 31 December 2017 rose $25.2 million or 2.9 per cent to $883.4 million, up from $858.2 million for the 12 months ending December 2016.
The Department confirms that the actual (i.e. not adjusted for inflation or population changes) annual increase in Class 4 gambling expenditure since 2014 is now a trend. The increase may be due, in part, to gaming machine technology and game changes in the sector since 2014.
A summary of Key Performance Indicators of Class 4 Gambling for the year ending December 2017 shows:
• Gambling expenditure declined from 2008 to 2013, but has since increased each year since 2014;
• The number of venues and gaming machines continues to decline; and
• The Rate of Return and overall amount of return to the community continues to increase each year and is now the highest since 2012, with an estimated $333.8 million returned to the community in the 12 months to December 2017.