Average gambler in NZ lost $616 last year

Casinos around the country saw the biggest increase in money spent by gamblers. Photo/file
Casinos around the country saw the biggest increase in money spent by gamblers. Photo/file

Gamblers in New Zealand spent $2.2 billion on the four main forms of gambling last financial year, with the average Kiwi punter losing $616.

The overall figure is $118 million or 5.6 per cent more than the previous year, according to figures compiled by the Department of Internal Affairs.

More was spent on all forms of gambling, though casinos had the largest increase.

Gambling expenditure increased by 2.6 per cent, from an average of $601 per person in 2015, to $616 per person in 2016.

The take from TAB racing and sports betting increased 5.3 per cent from $325 million in 2015 to $342 million in 2016. This was driven by higher active customer numbers and additional fixed odds betting options.

After adjusting for both inflation and changes in the adult population, expenditure on TAB racing and sports betting increased from an average of $93 per person in 2015 to $95 per person in 2016.

The take from NZ Lotteries' product sales increased 4 per cent from $420 million in 2015, to $437 million in 2016.

After 11 years, Lotto chose this financial year to retire the "Big Wednesday" promotion and replace it with two weekly "Powerball" draws. This allows jackpots, the size of which drives Lotto sales, to grow more quickly and reach higher amounts more consistently.

NZ Lotteries has also increased its retail presence in supermarkets, at fuel sites and through expanded digital offerings. After adjusting for both inflation and changes in the adult population, expenditure on NZ Lotteries' products increased from an average of $121 per person in 2015 to $122 per person in 2016.

The take from non-casino gaming machines increased 3.1 per cent from $818 million in 2015 to $843 million in 2016. After adjusting for both inflation and changes in the adult population, however, it appears that expenditure on non-casino gaming machines has actually remained constant at an average of $235 per person in both 2015 and 2016, a department spokesman said.

This coincides with declining numbers of venues and machines.

The take from the country's six casinos increased 11.1 per cent from $527 million in 2015 to $586 million in 2016. This increase was driven by positive macro-economic conditions, record tourism and significant improvements to casino facilities, the spokesman said.

After adjusting for both inflation and changes in the adult population, expenditure at casinos increased from an average of $151 per person in 2015 to $163 per person in 2016.

Communities benefited from an estimated $654 million, equal to 29.6 per cent of gambling expenditure in 2016, for various purposes. This was a slight decrease on the $655 million in 2014/15.

The main driver for this drop is a 9.4 per cent decrease in the amount of Lottery grants awarded to communities in 2016, a result of over spending in 2014 and 2015, followed by under spending in 2016.

What went where:

- The New Zealand Racing Board allocated $143 million, mostly to support racing club activities and infrastructure.

- The Lottery Grants Board approved $182 million in grants for community services and projects.

- Non-casino gaming machine trusts raised an estimated $275 million for authorised purposes.

- Non-casino gaming machine clubs raised an estimated $49 million for their own purposes.

- Casinos paid nearly $5 million to their community trusts.

- NZ Herald

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