Outside of casinos, New Zealanders spent NZ$252 million each quarter on poker machines, the largest amount since records began in 2007.
Annual gambling revenues were also down NZ$128 million, according to Department of Internal Affairs data, with lotto up 13% to NZ$631 million in 2021. The ongoing Covid-19 epidemic was the major source of these numbers, with lockdowns preventing access to casinos, bars, and clubs, causing consumers to flock to the internet.
“We’ve been following the pokie money through Covid, and we anticipated there would be an impact, but the bounce-back once the pokie limitations were lifted shocked us,” said Chris Thornborough, director of gaming for the Department of Internal Affairs.
“We didn’t expect quite as strong a rebound as there was in the December quarter.” By law, 40 percent of the earnings from poker machines must be donated as grants, with Peter Dengate Thrush, president of the Gaming Machine Association, applauding the increase in poker machine spending for the economic boost it has delivered.
“In general, New Zealand has not suffered as much as we could have from the Covid experience; we’re seeing recoveries across the economy,” Thrush added.
“We invest about $300 million in grants into the local community, keeping sport and culture events running all over the nation, so it’s a huge undertaking, and it’s a huge benefit to New Zealand,” says the minister.