2 May 2020

Punters move online as Lotto, SkyCity report increased activity in lockdown

12:14 pm on 2 May 2020

The Problem Gambling Foundation is concerned by a rise in people using online lotto and gambling sites during the Covid-19 lockdown.

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The Lotto app. Photo: RNZ / Richard Tindiller

Physical premises have been shut to customers, but gamblers can still access services from computers, mobile phones and tablets.

Lotto sales have been reduced to about 60 percent of normal sales, because of the store closures, Lotto New Zealand said.

"We expected to see a significant drop in sales during the lockdown, as we would normally see around 75 percent of our sales come from retail stores, and 25 percent online," it said.

However, about 125,000 customers had registered with MyLotto online, which had resulted in a more than twice the normal online sales.

Casino operator SkyCity said its online offering has been trading strongly over the past two months. It now has more than 15,000 registered users on the site.

Problem Gambling Foundation chairman Richard Northey said online gambling was dangerously accessible.

"If they're at home they can access [it] straight away, particularly among younger people, who in the lockdown are looking for other recreational opportunities."

Northey said international gambling sites were particularly bad as they did not show any responsibility.

The foundation has had to close all clinics during the lockdown, but counselling was still being offered by phone and video calls.

New Zealanders spent about $2402 million on gambling carried out within the country in the 2018/19 financial year, including $530m on Lotto and $616m at casinos, Department of Internal Affairs data shows.

Data from the Health Promotion Agency showed most people are gambling less, or about the same.

The report revealed:

  • Most respondents say they are gambling less or the same amount as they usually would, during lockdown. Gamblers who report gambling less online say this is due to financial reasons.
  • 9 percent report increasing their gambling since lockdown. A higher proportion of Māori gamblers (15 percent) and young gamblers aged 18-24 years (22 percent) report increased gambling during lockdown.
  • 8 percent of gamblers have gambled online for the first time since lockdown, and an additional 12 percent are gambling online more than usual since lockdown.
  • The most common reason for increased levels of online gambling during lockdown is because people are not able to go to their usual places to gamble.

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