New Zealanders spent more on gambling in 2016/2017 than they did in the previous account period according to the latest figures from the country’s Department of Internal Affairs.

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New Zealand lottery sales boom during 2016/2017, but casinos continue to suffer the pinch. (Image:

Reviewing the amount Kiwis spent on betting during the last financial year, the government has found that residents wagered, on average, NZ$635 per person.

When taking into account inflation and population changes, that figure is still 1.1 percent higher than the NZ$629 per person spend from 2015/2016.

Ups and Downs Across the Industry

Helping to bump up the annual total was increased interest in lotteries. Looking specifically at the statistics, lottery spending improved by 26.8 percent, while non-casino gaming machine expenditure rose by 3.1 percent.

In contrast, racing and sports betting suffered a 1.3 percent drop in year-on-year takings, while casinos saw 2.4 percent less activity. However, despite the unexpected drops for sports betting and casino gaming, the industry as a whole still raked in NZ$125 million (5.7 percent) more during 2016/2017.

Overall, any upswing for New Zealand’s gambling industry will be seen as a win at this stage. In a recent market update, SKYCITY Entertainment’s CEO Graeme Stephens was optimistic about his company’s future but noted the trying times it had faced both in New Zealand and Australia.

“Despite ongoing disruption from capital works in Auckland and Adelaide and a slightly less favourable New Zealand economic environment, we remain confident we can continue to deliver growth from our existing assets as well as the new projects in the pipeline,” Stephens said in an official press release.

Casinos Struggle to Attract Players

According to the Department of Internal Affairs’ latest report, New Zealand’s six casinos saw revenue fall from NZ$586 million in 2015/2016 to NZ$572 million in 2016/2017. This drop in revenue is due, in part, to the average spend per player shifting from NZ$167 to NZ$156.

The data also shows that the continued slowdown in international business has hurt the casino economy. In much the same way Australia’s leading casinos have seen revenue slip due to a lack of international players from Asia, New Zealand’s operators have also felt that pinch.

However, despite casino revenue taking a hit, the industry as a whole is in a healthy state. Indeed, lottery sales have given the betting sector its biggest boost thanks to mega jackpots encouraging more people to play.

“Sales for 2016/2017 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,” read a Lotto press release following the latest gambling figures.

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