In New Zealand, the gaming machines sector has seen its profits soar tremendously after the end of Level 4 restrictions on June 8, 2020. With no more restrictions when it comes to sports, work, school and internal travels that meant class four venues were allowed to reopen, and specifically those that operate pokies.
Kiwis were indeed happy to enjoy gaming machines after the lockdown and a look at the first numbers, immediately after the June restrictions were lifted, showed a 6.4% rise in Gaming Machines Proceeds (GMP). The metric is used to determine yearly players’ loss of money due to slot machines.
The losses generated were higher compared to the same period in the past two years. Yet, it wasn’t just pokies that were affected during the lockdown and the New Zealand Racing Industry Transition Agency had to alter its racing schedule a bit.
Meanwhile, according to The Department of Internal Affairs (DIA), the 116% surge in the pokies sector for the third quarter of 2020 represents $130,661,758. The scope and spending on pokie machines have been steadily increasing over the past 6 years and reached a record $939 million in 2018-2019, reported the Department
Pokies and Social Injustice in New Zealand
In order to boost gambling and increase its popularity, DIA has put in place a strategy leveraging the gambling data and publishing statistics once every three months to regulate gambling sector.
Despite the growing interest and profit increase in pokies, it’s also an indicator : “Pokies are disproportionately situated in our more deprived communities so we are seeing money coming from people who can least afford to lose it”, declared Andre Froude, spokesperson for the Problem Gambling Foundation of New Zealand.
Moreover, some people are concerned about the fact that in poor neighborhoods, there are a lot of pokie machines that encourage people to spend their money.
“You should reduce the pokie machines by 50 percent – also I’d advocate an equal number of machines must be operated in each ward – it’s disgusting, I think, that the poor wards have the most machines,” said Bernard O’Shaughnessy, a Wellington citizen, willing to convince councilors to be more severe when it comes to pokie machine companies.
DIA published new data which determines that the issue is also present in Auckland, and more specifically South Auckland, where the biggest number of machines are. More than half of gamblers that are willing to go to therapy are from South Auckland.
As the access to the class four gambling venues is being reinstated, Q3 numbers surpassed Q2 numbers for the first time since 2015, and profits were about 8.1% higher than expected, even if the covid-19 pandemic forced some places to close down definitively Overall, 8 venues have closed for every 4 that have opened, translating into 14,847 machines.
The gambling experience has been evolving in New Zealand with the national lottery introducing a variety of remote gaming solutions.