The New Zealand Department of Internal Affairs has reported a record-high amount of money spent on pokie machines, despite an overall drop on gambling spending for the year of 2020. Pokie machine spending has been steadily increasing throughout the years, leading to a record spend in the previous year despite the effects of the global pandemic. Mainly encouraged by the increase in free spins with no deposit promotions. The nation’s lockdown naturally led to a drop in spending with pokies dropping by 18%, casinos dropping by 22% and TAB falling by 10%. As for the lottery, overall revenue increased by 13%, likely due to the lack of other gambling alternatives that were in place because of lockdown.

It was in the year’s final quarter where spending took a sky-rocket leap, with Kiwis spending approximately $252 million in October-November 2020. When it comes to pokie machines, there were huge revenues generated in Q3 and Q4.
There was a 116% profit from pokie machines in Q3 alone, while Gaming Machines Proceeds (GMP) had an increase of 6.4%. Just in the period from October-November 2020, pokie machines saw an enormous turnover of $252m. Despite the positives for those who own and operate these pokie machines, it has resulted in an element of concern amongst those who are involved in combating problem gambling.

“We would like to know where the money has come from, given that 50 percent of pokie venues are in our poorest communities,” said Problem Gambling Foundation marketing director Andree Froude.

“That money has come from people who really can’t afford to be losing it, and on top of a year that’s been really difficult, so it’s really concerning and it would be really good to know why.”

By law, 42% of pokie profits must be returned to the government as grants and Peter Dengate Thrush, who is chair of the Gaming Machine Association, believes Q4 gains would melt due to a lack of tourism. As such, he described the recent news as a: “much-needed boost for New Zealand communities in the form of increased funding to health, emergency, education, environmental, heritage, sports and arts organisations all over the country.

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