Quarterly spend on poker machines outside of casinos in New Zealand was NZ$252m (US$178m), the highest total since records began in 2007.
The figures from the Department of Internal Affairs also show that annual gambling profits were down NZ$128m, with lotto up 13% to NZ$631m in 2021. The ongoing Covid-19 pandemic was the primary cause of such figures, with lockdowns restricting access to casinos, pubs and clubs, thus driving customers online.
“We’ve been tracking the pokie money through Covid, and we knew there was going to be an impact but we were surprised by the bounce-back once the pokie restrictions were eased,” said Department of Internal Affairs director of gambling Chris Thornborough.
“We didn’t anticipate that there’d be quite as vigorous a bounce back as there was over the December quarter.”
By law, 40% of proceeds from poker machines must be distributed as grants, with Gaming Machine Association chairperson Peter Dengate Thrush welcoming the rise in poker machine spend, due to the boost it has provided the country’s economy.
“New Zealand in general has not suffered as much from the Covid experience as we might’ve done, we’re seeing rebounds across the whole of the economy,” said Thrush.
“We put out around $300 million worth of grants into the local community, keeping sport and culture and art activities going all over the country so it’s an enormous endeavour, and it’s an enormous advantage to New Zealand.”