New Zealand is showing positive results as no excessive gambling is observed despite the country-wide lockdown. Will Australians keep the saved $1.5 billion during the lockdown or spend it all on online gambling?
There is No Increase in Gambling in New Zealand Since the Lockdown
The New Zealand government’s Health Promotion Agency and research company Nielsen issued a report on gambling assessing how the COVID-19 lockdown has affected consumer habits. Based on the report, New Zealand customers actually gambled less than usual, despite shelter-in-place orders. Last week, the country announced the reduction of the emergency AlertLevel to 3, thus allowing some businesses to start working again. New Zealand has been on lockdown since March 25, when the country implemented Alert Level 4.
Due to the lockdown, Lotto New Zealand sales were placed on hold on March 27 as well as all horse races. Despite retail closures, tickets were still available to purchase online. With the recent move to Alert Level 3, Lotto New Zealand booths have been allowed to reopen. Horse racing has also been resumed for training and trailing. However, the horse racing industry has seen better days as, due to the lockdown and lowered client interest, the industry’s work force might need to be reduced by estimated 30%.
Insight on the Report by Nielsen and NZ’s Health Promotion Agency
The report reflects the answers of 1,190 people living in New Zealand. All participants are over the age of 18 and 461 (39%) of them have taken part in gambling activities since the country’s lockdown. Based on the report, gambling is at an all-time low, since 50% of the people who gambled reported to play even less. The remaining 41% of the players said that they kept the same level without increased activity and finally, there was a small group of 9% who admitted to have gambled more than before the lockdown.
Online gambling sparkled big interest as some 51% of the interviewed noted that they turned to online activities since retailing options were not available. Some 8% of the online gambling users noted that this was their first-time using gambling apps or web sites while 24% of the interviewed said that they gambled less. Moreover, 33% of the users considered that they are keeping the same levels of gambling, while 12% admitted to having increased their gambling activities during lockdown.
Looking at the gamblers’ age groups, aged 18-24 reported to have gambled some 22% more, while users aged 25-49 admitted to only 18% increase in gambling activities. Group of gamblers aged 65+ actually showed a decrease as 13% of those players gambled online less.
Turning our eyes to problem gambling, only 17% of the interviewed noted that they are worried because of their gambling propensities. Another 9% actually worry about gambling in the family. The group aged 25-49 is mostly concerned about problem gambling – 28% of the users, next in line are age group 18-24 where 26% of the users have similar concerns.
Looking at the gambling platforms, MyLotto national lottery made the highest score of 65% of the online players. Next in line was the TAB with 19%, followed by 16% for Instant Kiwi and some 14% of users that are using offshore betting websites.
Billions of Australian Dollars Poured Offshore
A recent article by News.com.au suggests that millions of Australian dollars are lost due consumers turning to offshore or unregulated suppliers and markets. One Daniel from Sydney was cited by the newspaper saying: “I average $3000-$4000 a week.” He is hosting unregulated online competitions and despite that his business is not entirely legal, his profits were in the six figures even before the novel coronavirus.
Similar to New Zealand, Australia also implemented a lockdown. With clubs, betting venues and casinos closed, some $1.5 billion are considered as saved by the Australians, says the Alliance for Gambling Reform. These numbers however sparked a debate as to whether or not a hefty amount such as $1.5 billion will remain within the country’s economy or leak overseas.
Australian Gambling Research Centre manager, Dr Rebecca Jenkinson said that Australia holds one of the top places in the world when it comes to gamblers per capita. Considering the rise of online gambling activity in Australia since the lockdown, Dr Jenkinson is showing concern about the users. Many of the online consumers are not aware if the web site that they are using is licensed or regulated, and thus posing a risk for their funds.
Furthermore, Dr Jenkinson noted that online users get hooked up on various gambling activities that are offered such as slots and sport wages. Although the $1.5 billion which was ‘saved’ might as well be spent on online gambling, Dr Jenkinson hopes that the bigger part of that amount will land in the hands of licensed operators.