The number of New Zealanders buying lotto tickets has shot up in the past few years, while pokie figures have been trending down, the Problem Gambling Foundation says.
This is backed up by research, released yesterday by Roy Morgan Research, which revealed 56 per cent of New Zealanders over the age of 18 had bought a lotto ticket in the year ending January 2012, up from 52 per cent the year before.
Problem Gambling Foundation chief executive Graeme Ramsey said lotteries were by far the largest form of gambling within New Zealand and he was not surprised by the findings.
While the main problem gambling was around pokie machines, the incidents of problem gambling with lotteries had gone up, Mr Ramsey said.
"As a general rule the longer the gap between when you place a bet and when you get a result, the less potential for harm there is from gambling and so that's why pokie machines sit at the top of our lists of concerns, and lotteries are near the bottom.''
The number of people buying lotto tickets was not so much of a concern, rather how many people were buying tickets who could not afford it.
"The problem with lotteries comes when people are in dire financial trouble and see this as a way out, or when people are chasing their losses in other forms of gambling.''
In the past few years the number of people buying lottery tickets had gone up in general, while pokies had been trending down, he said.
"The bulk of that is about big jackpots; big jackpots drive spending. When the jackpot gets beyond the certain point, which in our analysis is about $15 million, then spending goes up dramatically.
"We've certainly seen over the last couple of years, many many more of those big jackpots than statistical lotteries say there should be.''
The Roy Morgan Research also found 29 per cent of women and 20 per cent of men purchased a scratch ticket in an average three month period in the 12 months to January 2012.
The next most popular gambling activity was pokie machine gambling, with 10 per cent of both men and women chancing their arm.
Men are more than twice as likely as women to use a TAB and the internet to place a bet.
Mr Ramsey was not at all surprised by the research and said it was in line with what was happening in society.
"Gambling has become a really normalised part of New Zealand culture and I think if I do have a concern about lotteries, it's about the way that the massive amounts of money that lotteries spend on advertising ... actually promotes all forms of gambling.