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Gaming in New Zealand - article

Introduction

This article looks at New Zealanders’ participation in gaming activities. It is based on the results of the 1999 New Zealand Gaming Survey, which was conducted by Statistics New Zealand, in conjunction with the Department of Internal Affairs. The purpose of the survey was to provide information to assist in the development of gaming and mental health related policy.

The survey collected information from people aged 18 years and over about their participation in gaming activities by type of activity, the frequency of participation and expenditure on gaming activities. The response rate was 75 percent, with an achieved sample size of 6452.2 The survey took place between January and March 1999.

Findings

Ninety-four percent of people aged 18 years and over had participated in at least one type of gaming activity in their lifetime, and 86 percent had participated in one or more activity in the six months preceding the survey. About 40 percent of adults aged 18 years and over reported gambling once a week or more.

Frequency of gaming participation

Lotto was the gaming activity that people most commonly reported ever participating in (86 percent). In the six months preceding the survey, 73 percent of survey respondents reported participating in Lotto, and 35 percent had participated once a week or more. Betting on other lotteries or raffles was the second most common activity ever participated in (77 percent), followed by Instant Kiwi (61 percent), betting on horse or dog races (48 percent) and gaming machines not in a casino (37 percent). Telebingo was the second most common gaming activity participated in once a week or more (6 percent), followed by Instant Kiwi (6 percent) and other lotteries or raffles (3 percent).

Among the eight most common gaming activities participated in, during the six months preceding the survey, Lotto was the most common activity participated in by almost three-quarters of men and women. As Table 1 shows, men were more likely than women to participate in betting on horse or dog races, money bets with friends, and gaming machines not in a casino. Women were more likely than men to bet on other lotteries or raffles, Instant Kiwi and Telebingo.

People aged 18 to 24 years were less likely than those in other age groups to have participated in Lotto, other lotteries or raffles and Telebingo, in the six months preceding the survey. They were more likely than other age groups to have participated in Instant Kiwi, money bets with friends and gaming machines not in a casino (see Table 1).

In the six months preceding the survey people of Māori and European ethnic groups had similar levels of participation in the Lotto and other lotteries or raffles categories. However, Māori were more likely than people in the European ethnic group to bet on Instant Kiwi, horse or dog races, money bets with friends or workmates, Telebingo and gaming machines not in a casino.

People in the other ethnic group, which includes Pacific and Asian peoples had a different pattern of gambling participation. In the six months preceding the survey, they were more likely than Māori and European people to have used casino gaming machines. They were less likely, however, to have participated in Lotto, other lotteries or raffles, Instant Kiwi, betting on horse or dog races and gaming machines not in a casino.

Preferred gaming activity

Among people who had ever participated in gaming activities, 26 percent did not have a favourite activity. Lotto was the most popular activity (24 percent) among those with a preference, followed by betting on horse and dog races (10 percent), Instant Kiwi (6 percent) and Telebingo (5 percent).

Males participating in activities other than Lotto were more likely to favour betting on horse and dog races, gaming machines and money bets with friends or workmates. Females, in contrast, were more likely to report Instant Kiwi, Telebingo, Housie and other lotteries or raffles as their favourite gaming activities.

Gaming expenditure

People who had gambled in the six months preceding the survey were asked about their typical monthly expenditure on each type of gaming activity. On average, people spent $41 per month on gaming activities. Males had a higher estimated monthly expenditure ($53) than females ($30). The lowest levels of gambling expenditure were found amongst people aged 18 to 24 ($30) and 65 or over ($31). People aged 45 to 54 had the highest average level of gambling expenditure ($58). Average expenditure levels were higher among the employed ($46) than those not in the labour force ($30).
People who were born in countries other than New Zealand, Australia, Europe or North America had higher levels of both people who did not bet in the past six months (26 percent) and people who spent $40 or more in a typical month (29 percent).

People who had gambled on Lotto in the six months preceding the survey spent an average of $18 per month on this activity. Average expenditure on Instant Kiwi was $6 per month for the same period and $10 per month for Daily Keno and Telebingo players. Average expenditure for betting on horse and dog races was higher at $36 per month for those who bet on this activity. For Internet sports betting (excluding betting on horse or dog races), casino games (excluding gaming machines), card games and housie, average expenditure was also high, but with low levels of participation. However, averages may be skewed upwards by several large expenditures.

Types of gamblers

Survey respondents were categorised into groups based on the frequency of their gaming involvement and the nature of the activity they participated in. Respondents were categorised into four mutually exclusive groups: nongamblers, past six month gamblers, regular continuous gamblers and regular noncontinuous gamblers. Non-gamblers are people who have never gambled, or people who have gambled, but not in the six months preceding the survey.

Regular non-continuous gamblers participate once a week or more in activities like Lotto, where winnings cannot be re-invested immediately following a win. People who bet once a week or more on activities such as gaming machines not in a casino, horse or dog races and casino gaming machines which allow winnings be re-invested shortly after a win, are classified as regular continuous gamblers. Participation in continuous activities is more strongly associated with problem gambling than non-continuous gambling.3

Table 2 shows the socio-demographic characteristics of people who are non-gamblers, past six-month gamblers, regular noncontinuous gamblers and regular continuous gamblers. It is evident from the table that a relatively small proportion of adults aged 18 years and over (10 percent) participate weekly or more in continuous forms of gambling. Men, people aged 55 to 64 years and Māori had a relatively high representation in this category. A substantially larger proportion (30 percent) of adults reported that they had participated in regular non-continuous forms of gambling. The particular form of non-continuous gambling that most adults engage in weekly or more is Lotto.

A further 45 percent of adults reported having gambled in the past six months, but not in the past week, on at least one form of continuous or non-continuous gambling.

Only 14 percent of adults indicated that they had not gambled at all in the last six months. People aged 65 years and over, Asians and Pacific peoples had relatively high proportions that reported not having gambled in the past six months.

Conclusions

The majority of New Zealanders aged 18 years and over have gambled at least once in their lifetime and most New Zealanders had gambled in the six months preceding the survey. However, less than half (41 percent) of New Zealanders gamble once a week or more. Lotto is New Zealanders’ favourite gaming activity and the activity that the greatest proportion of the population has participated in. Lotto is also the activity that people are most likely to participate in once a week or more.

Betting on horse or dog races, Instant Kiwi and Telebingo were also identified as popular activities. On average, people who had gambled in the six months preceding the survey spent $41 per month on gaming activities. Men, on average, spent more on gaming than women.

Regular-continuous gamblers, those most at risk of developing gambling problems, made up only about 10 percent of the adult population. During the survey period, the single largest group of adults fell into the category of having gambled in the past six months, but not in the past week.

More information about the New Zealand Gaming Survey is available from Statistics New Zealand.

Footnotes

1 This article was prepared by the Social Policy Division of Statistics New Zealand.
2 Tables are marked to denote cells that should be treated with caution because of high sampling errors. Cells marked with an * indicate a relative sample error of 30 to 50 percent and cells marked with a † indicate a relative sample error of greater than 50 percent.
3 Department of Internal Affairs, Taking the Pulse on Gambling and Problem Gambling in New Zealand: A Report on Phase One of the 1999 National Prevalence Survey, Department of Internal Affairs, Wellington, 2000, p96. 

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