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The Department of Internal Affairs pointed an escalation in lottery spending owing to the introduction of new Lotto games which resulted in more winners and bigger Powerball prizes.

The last few years saw Kiwis splurging on Lotto allured by the Bigger prizes. As per the statistics from the Department of Internal Affairs, New Zealanders spent an extra $125 million gambling in the past financial year. Over $2.334 billion was handed over for the four main forms of gambling in the 2016/2017 financial year which comprise lotteries, up 26.8 percent, and non-casino pokie machines, up 3.1 percent.

Spending on racing and other sports betting dropped 1.3 percent and casino betting was down 2.4 percent.

Adjusting for changes in population and inflation, gambling spending increased 1.1 percent to $635 per person for the year.

The take from NZ Lotteries’ product sales increased 26.8 percent from $437m the year before to $555m in 2016/17.

That worked out to an average $151 per person. The Lottery Grants Board approved $235m in grants for community services and projects.

As revealed by a Lotto spokeswoman, “Sales for 2016/17 were driven by successful product changes, which resulted in unprecedented Powerball jackpots, together with a range of digital enhancements and a strengthened brand presence in retail. The financial year also saw two Must Be Won Powerball draws during the year, with New Zealand’s biggest-ever jackpots of $40m and $44m.”

Pokie machine spending increased 3.1 percent to $870m. But adjusted for inflation and population changes, the per-person amount dropped a fraction, from an average $240 to $237.

The take from the country’s six casinos decreased 2.4 percent to $572m.

SkyCity, with four of New Zealand’s six casinos, said reduced international business turnover affected gambling revenue.

Andree Froude, the spokeswoman for the Problem Gambling Foundation, said her organisation was most concerned about the more harmful types of gambling, such as pokies.

More information was needed to know why the amount spent on them had lifted.

She said there had been a couple of years where the spend had been trending down despite population growth and inflation but it was now holding.

“It is not  tourism, it is not  economic growth and it certainly is not  people having more money to spend because these pokies are in our poorer communities.”

A “sinking lid” – the practice of not issuing new licenses for machines – was not enough, she said.

Economist Gareth Kiernan, of Infometrics, said it was hard to say what relationship gambling had with the economy.

He said some gambling types might be a “normal good”, which meant people spent more on it when they had more income, while other types might be an “inferior good”, which people turned to when they had less.

“These changes occur in the context of the broader and longer-term gambling environment and economic environment.”

Source: European Gaming Media and Events