New Zealand’s Department of Internal Affairs (DIA) reported the quarterly Gaming Machine Profits (GMP) for December 2020 from non-casino pokie machines was NZ$252m (US$181.4m).
It’s the highest quarterly figure since 2007 when the documentation of GMP began. Other notable periods are December 2007 with NZ$245m and September 2019 with NZ$244m.
GMP for the quarter decreased by NZ$128m, a 14% decline from December 2019. It can be attributed to COVID-19’s restrictions and reduction in gaming machines and venues. According to DIA, 2020 saw 75 fewer machines and 12 fewer venues. The September to December 2020 quarter recorded a GMP increase of 4% or approximately NZ$9m.
In 2020, Lotto saw a 13% year-on-year revenue increase, earning NZ$631m, while casinos were down 22% to NZ$504m and the TAB earned NZ$315m, a 10% decline.
“2020 was a tough year for everyone – we were all affected in some way or another,” said Peter Dengate Thrush, chair of the Gaming Machine Association.
“I’m proud that the positive returns for gaming will enable 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.”
However, the sudden influx in gambling after the lockdown caused concern for problem gambling advocates, as they argue that half of the pokie venues are located in poorer communities.
“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,” said Andree Froude, marketing director at Problem Gambling Foundation. “So it’s really concerning and it would be really good to know why.”