Gambling Statistics In NZ

Latest Gambling trends and stats in New Zealand 

6 min

New Zealand has a thriving gambling space overseen by the Department of Internal Affairs, DIA (te tari taiwhenua). To back this up, recent reports state that up to 80% of residents have gambled one way or another, despite only 6 commercial casinos in the country.

While the industry was shaken by the COVID-19 lockdown, which resulted in a drop in annual gambling profits, the number of bettors continued to grow as New Zealander gamblers spent $528 million on gambling in 2022. Keep reading as we discuss the region’s latest gambling statistics and trends.

Gambling Participation in NZ

According to the New Zealand Gambling Law Guide, 7 out of 10 adults in the region gamble at least once a year. For most of this population, pokies are the go-to gambling activity, but other popular types of gambling include betting on sports, poker, casino gambling, race betting, and lotto. The following statistics highlight the level of gambling participation in the region.

Gambling Participation in NZ

Low-Income Earners Gamble Three Times More Than High-Income Earners in New Zealand

New Zealander punters in the low-income bracket spend more of their money on pokies than those in the middle class or higher social strata. The high level of participation could be because 50% of the pokie machines in the country are located in low-income communities, making them readily available to gamblers in those areas. For many, these gambling machines are considered ways to escape their financial realities instantly if all goes well. However, games of chance are never predictable, making it a constant cycle of spending and losing which is often the start of problematic gambling.

Unregulated Online Gambling in New Zealand Accounts for a $140 million yearly loss in gambling revenue

More people who are engaged in gambling globally are making a transition to online gambling opportunities, and that includes Kiwis. Despite citizens flocking to outside casinos to gamble, the DIA is yet to make room for legal gambling online. The NZ Gambling Act 2003 was created when the online casino industry was in its infancy and no amendment has been made since then.

This Act technically makes it illegal for online gambling services to be provided locally. Still, there is no outright ban on residents gambling at offshore casinos. This loophole has resulted in an estimated average annual loss of $140 million in potential gambling revenue. Statista reports that New Zealander residents spent $1.1 billion gambling online by the end of 2023.

National Per Capita Gambling Expenditure to Record a 0.9% Rise in 2024

Players in New Zealand are expected to spend 0.9% more on gambling activities in 2024. That’s a new high reaching $591.28 from the previous PCGE of $572 per player between 2021 and 2022. Of the previous $572, $204 was bet on pokies, $160 went to the, $128 to casino games, and the remaining $80 was used up on tabs for sports gambling and racing.

Ironically, the persistently high inflation has affected the income and purchasing power of many households and slightly slowed the growth of the legal gambling industry. Still, it has not affected the prevalence of gambling offshore amongst Kiwis.

65% of New Zealanders Gamble Online using MyLotto

New Zealand’s official lottery website, MyLotto, is a legal internet gambling option for bettors. It started recording an increasing number of users since the Covid-19 lockdown with a 2020 survey showing that 65% of respondents had visited the site to play the lottery.

For the 2018 fiscal year, residents spent $ 561 million on NZ lotteries products accounting for nearly 23% of the year’s national gambling spend of $ 2.4 billion. As mobile gambling becomes even more popular amongst Kiwis, it has become convenient for new bettors to access MyLotto, and existing bettors to return. Considering that there is a projected 4.93% annual growth rate, the market volume for lottery in New Zealand by 2029 will be a staggering US$397.20 million. We also watch out for expected user penetration to leap from 2024’s 2.3% to 3.0% by 2029.

Problem Gambling and Gambling Behaviour Trends in NZ

Problem Gambling and Gambling Behaviour Trends in NZ

According to the New Zealand Ministry of Health, 76,000 New Zealanders aged 15 and older were at risk of gambling harm in 2018. With the industry’s growth rate and steady diversification, the number of people who deal with gambling issues changes over time. When it comes to gambling, not only direct participants deal with some form of harm.

To study problem gambling and the factors around it, the country created the National Gambling Study (NGS). It is New Zealand’s first population-representative longitudinal study into lifestyle, gambling, health, and attitudes about gambling. They started with an analysis of gambling habits amongst 6,251 residents 18 years and above and continued this through 2013, 2014 and 2015.

Here’s the data on problem gambling, relapse cases, and second-hand gambling problems amongst Kiwis.

49% of New Zealand Pokie Players May Experience Problem Gambling

With easy access to various digital betting options and land-based gambling venues, NZ has recorded a risky level of gambling amongst residents. Reports have it that 49% of pokie players are likely to develop gambling problems. That’s because these electronic gaming machines are one of the main types of gambling activity that is commonly abused. The consequences of gambling in this manner include a high risk of addiction, debt, and mental health issues.

Players lose almost $1 billion on this popular form of gambling annually and over 30% of the losses come from those experiencing gambling harm. Also, pokies are the most customizable gaming option, so players have access to new themes and features from time to time. That creates a false reward system in the brains of many players, encouraging them to chase wins.

Also, more than half the demographics of new cases of problem gamblers are relapses. Factors that influence people’s transition to and from risky gambling behaviour include loneliness, stress, boredom, and long-term history of mental health disorders. To cater to these people and other new cases of problem gambling, the government established a national non-profit organization called the Problem Gambling Foundation.

Local Gamblers Between 18 and 24 Worried About Potential Gambling Harm Dropped From 25% to 14% in 2020

As of April 2020, Statista surveyed gambling habits and risks among New Zealand adults. The findings suggested that 25% of residents between the ages of 18 to 24 were concerned about their gambling habits. The restrictions that came with the pandemic pushed more people to consider international gambling options online.

However, a follow-up survey done in June of the same year when the country’s lockdown was just downgraded to level 1 recorded only 14% of worried residents in the same demographic. This sharp drop in numbers is indicative of the diverse options of things to do that became available to people after the lockdown was slightly eased.

Tab Racing and Sports Betting in New Zealand

Tab Racing and Sports Betting in New Zealand

New Zealanders love their sports and betting on them. TAB NZ (Totalisator Agency Board) is the sole regulated provider of sports betting and horse racing in the country. This state-owned entity provides different betting options, catering to the diverse interests of New Zealand’s sports bettors. Here are some statistics and trends in this section of the gambling space.

1 in 10 Kiwis Bet on Sports

Not only do 1 in 10 Kiwis gamble on sports, but the betting market is projected to hit $290.40m by the end of 2024 with an annual growth rate of 6.30% in gambling revenue between 2024 to 2028. This data excludes offshore betting activities which go unreported.

When it comes to sports betting in New Zealand, there are various gambling options and guides available. Football is the top option for most bettors, with many Kiwis closely following local and international leagues. Tennis is another sport that gets considerable betting attention, particularly during major tournaments like the Australian Open and Wimbledon. However, horse racing remains a traditional favorite among New Zealand punters, with TAB NZ covering both domestic and international racing events.

According to Gaming Intelligence, the betting turnover through TAB NZ reached $780.4 million in the 2022/2023 financial year. This showcases the substantial interest in this form of gambling in the country. Online betting platforms have also played a significant role in the growth of betting on sports, providing convenient access to a wide range of markets and live betting options.

Online Gambling Industry in New Zealand Eye’s 590,900 users by 2028

About 9.2% of people in the country gamble online and experts think this number will grow to 11.3% by 2027. Also, the average amount of money each person spends on online gambling in New Zealand is currently $2,450.  By 2028, the number of users is projected to reach 590,900 per the expected annual growth rate of 6.03%.

These major trends in the New Zealand gambling scene currently drive the increasing numbers:

Mobile Gambling: Almost every New Zealand bettor owns a smartphone or tablet that supports easy access to different types of gambling platforms. They also have the option of gambling on the web or opting for dedicated mobile apps instead of visiting land-based gambling establishments.

Legal online Sports Betting: Since it is legal to bet on sports via the TAB NZ online platform, more Kiwis take advantage of it. Participation is further fueled by the country’s strong sports culture, making sports betting the most thriving part of the gambling market.

Mihnea Mosneagu
AuthorMihnea MosneaguAuthor & Editor at CasinoAlpha

Mihnea’s social skills make his articles easy to understand by the readers. He is a good analyst and a great strategist, which allows him to extract the most important information and then explain it so that everyone will easily understand the complicated terms of the casino world.

Anca Iamandi
ReviewerAnca IamandiSenior Author & Editor at CasinoAlpha

Anca's analytical skills developed in Generative Linguistics allow her to bring you clear casino content. Her texts will help you understand online casinos, bonuses, fees, and essential rules, in order to forget about the gambling myths that pull you down. She's a strong advocate of safe gambling.