The Lotteries Commission is looking to Asian punters to help boost sales of Lotto, Instant Kiwi and other games.

The state-owned commission's strategies are understood to include setting up Lotto outlets at Chinese and Korean supermarket chains, translating "how to play" brochures into Asian languages and targeted advertising in local Asian media.

Training will also be conducted for new retailers to enable them to better understand and market the products to the Asian market, would-be Asian retailers were told.

The commission hit a record $926 million in sales last year - the equivalent of $210 for every man, woman and child in New Zealand.

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The Problem Gambling Foundation says it is "irresponsible" of the commission to be targeting the Asian community as Lotto is often a "stepping stone" to more serious gambling problems.

Commission spokeswoman Karen Jones said the Asian retail strategy was in line with its statement of intent to improve the "convenience of purchase" of Lotto products.

"Specifically, we are looking to make it as easy as possible for people to buy our products."

Ms Jones said a study by the commission last year found Auckland underperformed in sales per head for lottery games, and a key difference between Auckland and the rest of the country was its proportion of people from an Asian background.

"One retail sector that has experienced growth in recent years is supermarkets and grocery chains featuring Asian products in Auckland ... these now represent a significant portion of the Auckland retail sector, however NZ Lotteries products are not currently sold through these stores," she said.

"We have been having high-level discussions with some of these retail grocery store owners regarding Lotto, and have also done some research to better understand this specific sector and its predominantly Asian customer base."

Tai Ping and Wang Mart are among the supermarket chains involved in these discussions, the Weekend Herald understands.

A specialist research agency was also commissioned to study the retail consumption patterns of Auckland's three largest Asian ethnic groups - Chinese, Indian and Korean, Ms Jones said. Recommendations in the report included translating materials plus "targeted communications within Asian media".

John Wong, Asian family services director at the Problem Gambling Foundation, said that although lottery games were a "comparatively lower" risk when compared with casinos and poker machines, they were often the "starting point of gambling problems".

"From an Asian perspective, ifthe community doesn't under-stand the games and don't play,it is much safer." Mr Wong said tough economic times and difficulties finding work tempted many Asian migrants to gamble.

Lotto retailer Sharad Ghule, of Mid City Lotto and Newsagents, believes having information and advertising in Asian scripts could boost sales by at least 30 per cent.

"Language has always been a major challenge for us.

"We have lots of Asians and international students who have the money, want to play but don't know how to."