A PhD student is looking for gamblers to assess the link between using pokies and social anxiety.

Since 2012, Kiwi gamblers have increasingly lost money on gaming machines despite there being 1500 fewer machines nationwide in 2016.

Kiwi gamblers lost more than $843 million in pokies in 2015.

Retina Rimal is studying the association between social anxiety, using electronic gaming machines and decision-making. She said the machines provide a safe environment for socially anxious individuals. They are also the leading cause for gamblers to seek help in New Zealand.


"While many people enjoy gaming machines without any problems, some gamblers develop addictive behaviours involving EGMs.

"The thinking behind this study is that the isolation of playing games without having to engage in any social interactions in the hustle and bustle of casinos, clubs and societies may attract people with social anxiety."

Rimal, who is a PhD candidate at the University of Auckland School of Psychological Medicine, said her study could help scientists and policy-makers to develop more effective treatments.

An online survey will begin the study and later be followed by qualitative and neuroimaging studies in the future.

If you play electronic gaming machines, click here to help with the study.

Participants will enter a draw to win one of ten $50 petrol vouchers.