The number of New Zealanders playing Lotto has soared, with organisers claiming the increase is down to big jackpots.

According to a survey by Roy Morgan Research, 1.8 million adults have bought a Lotto ticket in the past three months - 56 per cent of the adult population - up from 52 per cent in a study conducted last year.

Lotto is the largest form of gambling in New Zealand, with scratch cards second and pokies third.

Lotteries Commission spokeswoman Karen Jones said the increase could be explained by a rise in multimillion-dollar jackpot payouts in the past year.


The latest big winner, Trevor, a 34-year-old supermarket worker, netted $26 million on the Lotto Powerball - the third biggest individual prize in NZ Lotteries' history.

At the time, Trevor said he was so broke he had to ask his parents to borrow fuel money.

Other findings from the research, which involves 12,000 people, found the second most popular gambling activity in New Zealand was the Instant Kiwi scratch ticket.

Twenty-nine per cent of women and 20 per cent of men bought a scratch ticket in an average three-month period in the 12 months to January 2012.

The Problem Gambling Foundation said despite lotteries being the largest form of gambling within New Zealand, they were more concerned about problem gambling around poker machines.

Chief executive Graeme Ramsey said lotteries were less harmful because ticket purchasers had to wait for any possible winnings.

"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."

While the main problem gambling was around poker machines, the incidence of problem gambling with lotteries had gone up, Mr Ramsey said.


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."