Lotteries drive NZ gambling expenditure

New Zealanders spent 5.7 percent more in FY 2016/17 on gambling activities, with lotteries claiming a large increase at the expense of pokies, racing, sports betting, and casinos, the latest figures from the country’s regulator show.

Kiwi gamblers spent $2.33 billion dollars (US$1.72 billion) on the four main forms of gambling in the 2016/17 financial year, $125 million more than the previous year, according to figures compiled by the Department of Internal Affairs.

Spending on lotteries was up by 26.8 percent, 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 regulator, the Department of Internal Affairs, adjusts for both inflation and changes in New Zealand’s population (18 years and older), and allowing for these changes gambling expenditure increased by 1.1 per cent, from an average of $629 per person in 2016, to $635 per person in 2016/17.

Expenditure is not the amount wagered. Expenditure is defined as the gross amount wagered by gamblers, less the amount paid out or credited as prizes or dividends. It is the amount lost or spent by players and takes into account the gross profit of the gambling operator.

On this basis, and after adjusting for both inflation and changes in the adult population, expenditure on lotteries increased from an average of $124 per person in 2015/16 to $151 per person in 2016/17, mainly due to changes to Lotto games which delivered more winners and bigger Powerball prizes.

On the same basis, expenditure on pokies decreased slightly from an average of $240 per person in 2016 to $237 per person in 2016/17.

Expenditure at casinos dropped from an average of $167 per person in 2015/16 to $156 per person in 2016/17.  SkyCity, which operates four of New Zealand’s six casinos, said reduced international business turnover affected gambling revenue

And expenditure on racing and sports betting decreased from an average of $97 per person in 2016 to $92 per person in 2016/17, mainly due to a lack of international sporting events.