23 Jan 2013

Gamblers write off $2bn in a year

9:55 am on 23 January 2013

People have gambled away a record amount of money in the last financial year, losing more than $2 billion.

The Department of Internal Affairs data reveals the amount spent by gamblers, and made by operators, on the TAB, Lotteries Commission, casinos, and gaming machines outside casinos.

Overall spending is up by just over 3%on the previous financial year to about $2.1 billion.

The department says TAB racing and sports betting increased 4.9% to $286 million reflecting gambling on the 2011 Rugby World Cup and the growth of fixed-odds betting.

It says people have spent more on lottery products which were up 3.5% to $419 million.

Casino gambling increased 8% to $509 million which the department attributes to growth across SkyCity's casinos and the Christchurch Casino reopening after the February 2011 earthquake.

Problem Gambling Foundation chief executive Graeme Ramsey says there has been been some aggressive marketing by casinos in particular.

Mr Ramsey says when it comes to the amount of money being spent it's clear the country has a problem and people who can afford it the least are losing the most.