The Department of Internal Affairs

Te Tari Taiwhenua | Department of Internal Affairs

Building a safe, prosperous and respected nation


Gambling statistics: number of operators continues to fall, machine numbers could drop more in future


The Department of Internal Affairs has released quarterly statistics today showing that the number of gambling operators has continued its significant decline, while the number of pubs and clubs hosting gaming machines and the number of machines declined slightly.

Licensed class 4 gambling operations in pubs and clubs 1
Gambling operators
Gaming machines
31 March 2005
31 December 2004
30 September 2004
30 June 2004
31 March 2004
30 June 2003 2
31 December 1998 3

1. The Act categorises gaming machines in pubs and clubs as “class 4 gambling”.
2. Machine numbers peaked in the quarter before the Gambling Act was passed. The Act was passed in September 2003.
3. These figures are included to help give a longer-term historical perspective.

The Director of the Department’s Gaming and Censorship Regulation Group, Keith Manch said that the statistics are the expected results of the Gambling Act being passed in September 2003.

“The Act has made it harder to get a gambling licence and easier to lose it,” Mr Manch said. “Most of the recent reductions are from operators deciding to not apply to renew their licences or having renewal applications declined. This has reinforced the historical trend towards fewer, but on average bigger, operators.”

The Act also led to the first ever drop in the number of machine licensed to operate. Before the Act was passed machines number increased significantly every quarter. The numbers dropped significantly immediately after the Act was passed and then dropped slowly after that.

The number of venues fluctuated up and down over the years and then followed a similar pattern to machine numbers, dropping when the Act was passed and then declining slowly.

Future numbers

Mr Manch said that the some provisions of the Act are yet to have their full impact and over the next few years they could further reduce the numbers of venues and machines and sustain the trend to fewer, but on average larger, operators.

One of the licensing requirements in the Act is that the “venue is not used mainly for operating gaming machines” (section 67(k)). As licences come up for renewal, the Department is encountering venues where gaming machines seem to be the main operation. If these venues cannot meet this requirement of the law, then their licences cannot be renewed.

There has been comment from some in the gambling sector that the gambling harm prevention regulations now starting to come in to force could lead to some venues no longer wanting to operate machines. There has also been comment that the electronic monitoring system (EMS) to be introduced could result in some venues with few machines turning off their machines.

Gambling profits

Gambling operators have commented that if machine numbers drop, then so do their profits and there is less money for grants to community purposes.

Historically, the opposite has happened. For example, from June 2003 to June 2004 machine numbers reduced by 11% while profits increased by 10%.

The Department believes that profits continued to increase while machine numbers dropped because gamblers simply went to other venues.

The new rules changed how operators behave but did not change gamblers’ behaviour.

Likewise, getting rid of venues that are mainly used for operating gaming machines and introducing EMS are changes for gambling operators but not to gamblers’ behaviour.

However, the harm prevention provisions are aimed at changing gamblers’ behaviour.

Gambling operators have objected to part of the gambling harm prevention regulations and their complaint is currently before Parliament’s Regulations Review Select Committee.

More detailed statistics, including numbers by territorial authorities, are available on the Department’s website at:

Media contact

Keith Manch
Director Gaming and Censorship Regulation Phone 04 495 9449, Cellular 027 445 6420

Vince Cholewa
Communications Advisor Phone 04 495 9350, Cellular 027 272 4270