The bank says gambling spend increased “massively” during Covid-19 lockdowns and hasn’t gone down since.
New Zealand.- Kiwibank customers spend about $30m a month on online gambling sites, the bank has said. The revelation comes after the Department of Internal Affairs (DOI) revealed that New Zealanders spent NZ$2.63bn (US$1.81bn) on the four main types of gambling in the 2020/21 financial year.
Julia Jackson, Kiwibank’s head of purpose and sustainability, told Newshub: “When we look at our customers, what we see is there is about $30m a month that’s being spent on online gambling and 80 percent of that is offshore… what’s a really interesting trend that we’ve seen is from the first COVID lockdown in 2020, that number has massively increased and it hasn’t gone down.”
In 2021, New Zealand’s gambling spending was up 17 per cent when compared to the previous financial year, with spending on slot machines (known as ‘pokies’) outside casinos up 23 per cent to NZ$987m – the highest level in five years.
The DOI report doesn’t reveal how much Kiwis spend on online gambling, but the department estimates at least $351m was spent on offshore gambling sites in the last financial year. Internal affairs minister Jan Tinetti has announced a government review to target and reduce harm suffered by people who use slot machines.
Offshore sites are located in places like Malta, Cyprus, Gibraltar, Estonia and Lithuania, where registered companies can benefit from low taxes.
Kiwibank uses a voluntary system that allows customers to choose to block payments. According to the company, more than $7.1m has been saved by people using the block. However, the system is a Kiwibank initiative. The government is yet to introduce any form of regulation for online gambling.
DIA Audit: SkyCity Auckland failed to tackle gambling-related harm
An audit conducted by the New Zealand Department of Home Affairs (DIA) has concluded that SkyCity Auckland repeatedly failed to address gambling-related harm. The investigation, which was completed last year, found that operator underperformed in nine out of 10 areas of compliance despite warnings to address similar issues in previous audits.
SkyCity staff were arrogant about problem gaming issue and failed to identify banned players, the audit found. It also identified a high probability of underage customers entering the casino. Local media outlet Newshub shared the case of a banned gambler who played pokies for 28 hours straight before being discovered.