The Department of Internal Affairs

Te Tari Taiwhenua | Department of Internal Affairs

Building a safe, prosperous and respected nation


Gambling spending drops in 2005/06 year

Statistics for 2005/06 released today show that New Zealanders’ gambling spending has fallen below $2 billion.

The Department of Internal Affairs’ Gaming Policy Manager, John Markland, said that spending on the main forms of gambling fell by 2.5 per cent, from $2.027 billion in 2004/05 to $1.977 billion in 2005/06.

“The overall reduction is entirely the result of reduced player spending on non-casino gaming machines,” said Mr Markland. “This is significant because we know that gaming machines are a harmful form of gambling.”

Overall spending in 2005/06 on gambling was made up of:

Gambling product2005/06 Spending (Player Losses)Increase / Decrease from 2004/05
Racing and sports betting$258m+ 4.5%
Lotteries Commission products$321m+ 14.6%
Casinos$493m+ 4.4%
Non-casino gaming machines$906m- 11.8%
Total spending$1.977 billion*- 2.5%
* Total is not the sum of the column due to rounding.

Mr Markland said that the 2005/06 non-casino gaming machine results are consistent with trends established in the previous year as a result of the smoke-free legislation that came into force on 10 December 2004.

“Spending on non-casino gaming machines increased until December 2004, before settling at a level of about $900 million a year. What we’re seeing in 2005/06 is a full year of player expenditure at this reduced level, rather than a continued decline.

“Even so, 2005/06’s non-casino gaming machine expenditure ($906 million) is still double the amount players spent on pub and club machines in the year 2000 ($450 million),” Mr Markland noted.

Mr Markland said that the detail, accuracy and timeliness of the non-casino gaming machine expenditure statistics would be greatly enhanced from the end of March 2007, when all machines will be connected to a new electronic monitoring system.

The largest increase in spending was on Lotteries Commission products. “This was in part a result of Big Wednesday’s introduction,” said Mr Markland. “Past experience has shown that expenditure on Lotteries Commission products increases when new products are offered, and generally settles over the following years.”

Measures taken by casinos to mitigate the effects of the smoke-free legislation and rising interest in casino table games, particularly poker, were reasons identified by Mr Markland for the increase in player expenditure at casinos.

“In the meantime, though, trends in many gambling statistics, including the expenditure statistics and gaming machine numbers, look positive in terms of the objectives of the Gambling Act 2003, which include preventing and minimising gambling-related harm,” Mr Markland said.


Further details on gambling expenditure are available in the table Gambling Statistics 1982-2006 and the explanatory notes that accompany this media release.

The Gambling Act 2003 became law on 18 September 2003 with lead-in periods for most of its provisions. The Act came fully into force on 1 July 2004.

Key objectives of the Act are to: control the growth of gambling, prevent and minimise the harm that can be caused by gambling, limit opportunities for crime and dishonesty, and ensure that money from gambling benefits the community.

The amount paid to community purposes from non-casino gaming machines depends not only on the level of gaming machine revenue, but also on the costs taken out of, and any misappropriation from, that revenue.

“Gaming machine revenue” is the same as “spending” or “expenditure”. It is the amount players lose on the machines.

Gaming machines can be a very harmful form of gambling:
  • In 2005, 78.6% of gamblers who received help from Ministry of Health funded Gambling Helpline services for the first time said that their main problem was non-casino gaming machines. 72.4% of gamblers accessing face-to-face intervention services for the first time reported their main problem as non-casino gaming machines.
  • Another 9.0% of Gambling Helpline new gambler clients said that their main problem was casino gaming machines. 8.9% was the corresponding figure for new gambler clients accessing face-to-face intervention services.
  • About one in five regular gaming machine players has a gambling problem.
  • More than 20% of gaming machine revenue comes from people with gambling problems.
  • Most gaming machines are located in New Zealand’s poorest areas.

The number of non-casino gaming machines declined from 25,221 as at 30 June 2003, to 20,739 as at 30 June 2006 (and has declined further since). The number of non-casino gaming machine venues declined from 2,122 to 1,701 over the same period (and has declined further since).

Media contact:
John Markland Phone 04 495 9354
Manager, Gaming, Racing and Censorship Policy Cellular 027 440 6624

Trevor Henry Phone 04 495 7211
Communications Advisor Cellular 027 584 3679