Gambling is common. The 2016 Health and Lifestyles Survey (HLS) shows that approximately 2.7 million New Zealanders aged 15 years and older (70% of respondents) participated in some form of gambling in the previous 12 months.
Common gambling activities include purchasing Lotteries Commission products, using gaming machines in pubs or clubs, and sports/racing betting.
We know that continuous gambling activities are associated with greater levels of gambling and risk. The HLS tracked ‘at least monthly’ participation in four gambling activities as well as any gambling activity over the past several years according to the experience of at least some level of gambling harm.
While associated harm for all activities has decreased over time, harm from the use of gaming machines in pubs and clubs has been consistently greater than the other activities. This is despite considerable fluctuations. The highest level was in 2010 at 57% and the lowest was in 2012 at 38% but it rose in 2014 to 41% and again in 2016 to 49%.
In 2016, 10% of adults had played gaming machines or pokies at a pub or club, while 5% had played gaming machines at one of the six casinos in New Zealand.
The overall past-year gambling rate had decreased from 2006/07 but has remained unchanged since 2012.
For most people gambling can be a leisure activity that causes no ill effects. However, gambling-related harm is a continuing issue in New Zealand with significant health, social, and economic implications. Harmful gambling can have lifelong consequences for an individual and can also seriously impact their wider group of family/whānau and friends.